ABU DHABI // Young male Emirati drivers called yesterday for improved driving education and welcomed a tougher traffic-law enforcement regime, after a study found that nearly half of them admitted to dangerous behaviour behind the wheel.
The research indicates that young Emiratis' attitudes, values and response to peer pressure may be behind the high number of traffic accidents, injuries and road deaths.
The study, sponsored by the Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy and conducted by United Arab Emirates University, surveyed 576 drivers aged 18 to 33, in three groups: Arab expatriates, Emirati men and Emirati women.
Up to 50 per cent of Emirati male drivers said they engaged in risky behaviour such as not wearing a seat belt or driving on the wrong side of the road. Up to a quarter said they engaged in dangerous behaviour such as speeding or sudden lane-changing and cutting in.
Nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed said they started driving before the legal age of 18. The Middle East Road Safety conference in Abu Dhabi last month heard that most victims of road accidents were young Emiratis.
Greater focus should be placed on education, Yasser al Dhaheri, a 23-year-old driver from Al Ain, said yesterday. "People memorise the location of the radars on the roads," he said.
"And thanks to the technology, we can save the location of radars on our GPS. The most effective method is raising awareness.
"People in high school should be given more attention, because it is during this time that their personalities are shaped - and they tend to think of driving behaviour as traits of personality."
Another young driver, Ahmed al Refai, a 22-year-old student from Ras al Khaimah, said: "The new fining system is the best deterrent. It's excellent. I used to know people driving their cars at 200kph and now they are more careful because of this tougher and stricter system."