x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Safe driving is everybody’s responsibility

The cliches about women drivers may be wrong, but that doesn't absolve anybody from obeying the rules of the road.

Statistics just released by the Dubai Police traffic department may have caused some animated discussions in households across the UAE. As The National reported yesterday, the figures contradict the clichés about men being better drivers by pointing out that male drivers were responsible for 87 per cent of all traffic accidents in the emirate in the first half of this year.

Men were responsible for accidents that killed 74 people and injured 941 people, 76 of them seriously. Female drivers killed eight people and injured 139, six of them seriously.

No wonder that, when informed of the statistics, Dubai resident Norah Khalid told our reporter: “Give me a copy. I want to show them to my husband as I scream ‘in your face’.”

Before we start too many family quarrels, it’s important to note that the statistics do not account for the fact that there are more male drivers, and that men generally spend more time behind the wheel than women.

But it is also true that, in the UAE and worldwide, men – and especially young men – are over-represented in traffic accidents statistics and the number of deaths in those accidents.

According to World Health Organisation data released in March, men account for 77 per cent of all road traffic deaths and males under the age of 25 are almost three times as likely to be killed in a car crash as young females. The most fatal combination is a car driven by a young man carrying young male passengers.

The overall road safety statistics for the UAE are especially disturbing. With 37.1 fatalities per 100,000 people, UAE residents are seven times more likely to die in a car accident than people in the UK. Car accidents are the primary cause of death of children here.

There are many contributing factors, including the excellent state of the roads, which enables speeding, and the number of high-performance vehicles in the Emirates. But the main cause is simple: bad driving.

The authorities are doing their bit with enforcement and awareness campaigns, but the bottom line is that road safety is everybody’s responsibility.

So, rather than argue about who’s the better driver, men and women should agree to make road safety their mutual priority, and to educate their children about the dangers of driving a car.