DUBAI // Motorists who race home to break their daily fast are being urged to slow down and help prevent accidents.
Police are appealing to hungry and tired drivers eager to make maghrib prayers to slash their speed and even pull over to eat and drink on their own rather than risk injury.
First Lt Imran Abdullah from Dubai police's directorate general of traffic, said it was important for drivers who have been fasting for 15 hours not to push themselves in a bid to get home.
"Before iftar everybody just rushes home to break fast and they speed up, without bothering about speed limits, and end up in accidents."
Careless and dangerous driving, as well as road rage, is common during Ramadan, said Lt Abdullah, as people tend to lose their temper quickly after going without food and water for so long.
"People get angry quickly due to fasting, they should exercise caution and drive carefully," Lt Abdullah said.
But it is not just at the end of the day when accidents occur. Several cars were in a smash yesterday morning on the road from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.
"Accidents between four vehicles on Sheikh Zayed Road towards Abu Dhabi resulted in traffic delays," Lt Abdullah said.
"No injuries or deaths were reported. We advise people to follow speed limits, maintain sufficient distance between vehicles and avoid over-speeding, which causes accidents."
If drivers feel tired or dizzy they should pull over or stop at a petrol station.
"Motorists need to exercise more control of their emotions, particularly when behind the wheel," Lt Abdullah said.
Last year, 14 people died in road crashes in Dubai during Ramadan.
An Asian man was killed on the first day of the holy month this year after his car crashed at a building site in The Springs.
Later that day another man was seriously injured after being run over behind a petrol station in Al Qusais.
An Emirati was seriously injured and his passenger hurt after their car hit a signpost near Al Faya roundabout on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road. The vehicle overturned twice.
In Sharjah fasting drivers seem to be less of a worry, with police yet to attend any major accidents since the holy month began, said Maj Khaled Al Kayi, director of awareness and media at Sharjah Police Traffic Department.
"All the accidents have been the usual minor thing that are handled by the Saeed service," he said. "We have not had any big road accidents or even road fatalities yet."
The absence of accidents is being put down to road-safety campaigns and a change in people's driving habits, with motorists learning to be patient and avoid speeding.
Maj Al Kayi said the worst time of day for crashes in previous years was at sunset. He urged motorists to keep their speed down and give themselves plenty of time to make maghrib prayers.
Dubai Municipality, Al Ihsan Charitable Association and Dubai Police yesterday launched a campaign to distribute iftar packages to drivers 20 minutes before prayers.
They hope to give out 100,000 parcels in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah.
Muna Malik, team leader of Tatawu', Dubai municipality's volunteer group, said: "People are usually in a hurry during this time, which risks the safety on our roads.
"The initiative will distribute to drivers what they need so that they can be relaxed and safe"