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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

All UAE drivers must follow the same highway code

The death toll on the country's roads has been reduced but there is plenty of work left to do

Congestion is a problem across the UAE
Congestion is a problem across the UAE

The news that the compulsory wearing of seatbelts has contributed to a reduction in the number of deaths on the UAE’s roads is to be welcomed, albeit it is tempered by the statistic that 60 per cent of those who die in road accidents were not wearing seat belts.

Much ground has been covered over the past few years, but more work still needs to be done to make our roads safer. A recent YouGov survey has identified a number of bad practices that contribute to stress and accidents on our roads, including abrupt lane-changing, speeding, aggressive manoeuvring, cutting in and tailgating.

A variety of additional measures could add to the improvements in road safety already being made: speed limits could be unified throughout the UAE and, as in Abu Dhabi, the speed buffer should be scrapped.

Technology can also help. In some countries in-car “black box” devices that record speed are becoming a condition of cheaper car insurance. For those who insist on mistaking the public highway as a suitable venue for dangerous self-expression, clear laws and tough penalties must be enforced.

The UAE has done much to reduce the death toll on its roads, which fell from 6.1 per 100,000 people in 2016 to 4.4 last year. The target of three deaths per 100,000, set out in UAE Vision 2021, is well within grasp, but now is the time to step up the pressure, not only to achieve that objective but to go beyond it.

One way of quickly improving matters is making sure that everyone is following the same highway code. The UAE is home to people from 200 nations. Each driver brings with them the style of driving to which they are accustomed, and such cultural disparities can create confusion and potential dangers.

An intensive introduction to the UAE’s laws and conditions in the form of a mandatory theory test for all drivers regardless of where they are from, to be completed within three months of arrival in the country, could do much to harmonise behaviour and make the daily commute a pleasure, not a chore.