x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

Dubai Police to take over driving complaints

All company vehicles will soon have to carry a standardised number on which members of the public can report unsafe driving.

DUBAI // All commercial vehicles will soon bear the number for a Dubai Police complaints hotline after the traffic authority found some companies were ignoring reports of unsafe driving to their own numbers.

The numbers usually posted on an "Am I driving safely?" sticker have no link to police, leaving it up to the companies to decide what action should be taken. But some fail to even answer the calls.

The National called several numbers to report bad driving, but did not receive one response.

"Leaving it to the companies to take action against their own drivers is like cheating," said Maj Gen Saif Al Zaffin, head of the Dubai Police traffic department. "This will contribute to road safety as police will be responsible for taking actions against bad drivers."

The issue of safety in private company vehicles was highlighted by this month's crash in Al Ain between a workers' bus and a lorry, in which 21 people died.

The Roads and Transport Authority, or RTA, hopes the police hotline will make companies more accountable.

Drivers and employers say that under the present system, most drivers are let off with a warning after a complaint and not fined unless the offence is serious.

Company managers said fines for bad driving ranged from Dh30 to Dh50 – equal to a day's pay for many drivers.

Gen Al Zaffein said a start date was yet to be set for the hotline.

Until it comes in, the RTA will continue to register vehicles that display the old stickers with private numbers.

Most drivers feared that under the new system fines and penalties would increase, while most employers welcomed the decision, saying it would ensure swift action.

"This is one of the best solutions for rash driving," said Anthony Peter, the operations manager of the tour company Arabian Dreams, who said it would prevent complaints from being "swept under the table".

"In some companies a complaint against a driver can be ignored. And if the complainant calls to check then the company can always say they fined the driver, but not really do anything.

"A common number is the best option to be sure that action is taken."

Drivers are less happy with the idea.

"I had a day's pay cut because someone complained about me but I don't know why they complained," said Wahid, who drives a van that carries 20 people between Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman.

"We are just told that someone has complained ... but what did I do wrong? Someone should tell me that.

Shabbir, a driver of a maintenance van, feared complaints would increase.

"Usually people are let off with a warning unless it is very serious and there is an accident," he said. "But if there is just one complaint number there will be too many complaints.

"What is the use if we don't know why people are complaining?"

wissa@thenational.ae

rtalwar@thenational.ae