x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Risking your life to save 12 minutes on UAE roads

Saving 12 minutes on a commute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi is not worth risking your life for.

On a commute between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, a journey tens of thousands make every day, saving 12 minutes seems like a negligible achievement. Arriving 12 minutes earlier in Dubai won't mean you will catch the beginning of the movie; it won't make a difference in getting to the restaurant on time. It is certainly not enough time saved to risk your life for.

Yet according to an investigation by The National, 12 minutes is the difference between driving safely along the Dubai-Abu Dhabi motorway and weaving dangerously between the lanes at high speed. Our investigation concluded that those who drove fast and those who weaved all over the road, risking crashes, only had a small time advantage over those who drove steadily and followed standard international safe driving practices.

In addition, The National's guinea pigs wore heart monitors, which showed that those who drove slowly and steadily also saw their heart rates jump least, while erratic driving led to jumps in heart-rates and therefore in stress. So, more stress and more risk, to save only a few minutes.

This newspaper's survey is hardly conclusive, but it is indicative of something most commuters probably know already: that recklessly weaving across lanes doesn't lead to a faster commute; it just seems that way. Driving style is a balance between risk and reward, and the rewards of driving erratically just aren't sufficient: risking your health and safety for mere minutes is not a rational choice.

As we have stated many times, what we need in the UAE is to develop a safe-driving culture. Changing attitudes towards speeding and altering driving styles is a long-term process. Awareness of the risks and rewards is one aspect; technology is another. As we also report today, road-safety specialists are recommending a point-to-point radar system. Implementing this technology would allow the automatic calculation of vehicle speed based on the time taken to travel between two radar points.

The point-to-point radar system has not yet been enforced but the technology has been tested. Experts believe that enforcing the system would help to curb erratic manoeuvring and limit this bad driving behaviour on UAE roads.

Making smart decisions depends on calculating the amount of opportunities and risks involved. Is it work risking life and limb, with a strong likelihood of being caught, just to save 12 minutes?