x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Reckless drivers brag on internet

Young drivers are flaunting their reckless exploits on the internet, filming their speedometers as they race at speeds of up to 270kph around Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

On one of the YouTube videos, a speedometer shows almost 270kph.
On one of the YouTube videos, a speedometer shows almost 270kph.

Young drivers are flaunting their reckless exploits on the internet, filming their speedometers as they race at speeds of up to 270kph around Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In many cases, the drivers are clearly holding their cameras and filming as they risk their lives and those of others. The videos are not blocked because, according to a statement by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, the internet regulator, the illegal acts of speeding they show do not fall under its definition of prohibited content.

In one clip posted on the video-sharing website YouTube, a man in sunglasses points a camera to a chrome-rimmed speedometer and takes the car to 270kph. A brief glimpse of the road shows him driving on a nearly deserted stretch of a familiar motorway. The driver turns the camera on himself and gives a thumbs-up. Another video also follows a speedometer as it reaches 270kph on a public road in Dubai. An accompanying caption reads: "very fast huh ;)". The video has accrued almost 20,000 viewings since it was uploaded two years ago, and a host of jovial, largely supportive comments.

One person wrote: "This is how we drive in Dubai." Bernadette Bhacker, a Dubai-based British lawyer and director of Al Mustadaama, which developed Oman's Safe and Sound campaign, said teenage risk-taking behaviour in the region tended to manifest itself in fast driving. "It is a phenomenon of young people, male and female, in this part of the world, who have the means and access to high-performance cars," she said.

She said one way to combat the proliferation of such videos would be to post videos showing the results of the crashes that result from young people driving recklessly. "It needs a particular approach when addressing the issue of public awareness to people enjoying the thrill of potentially dying," she said. But, she added, "there is a fate worse than death; it's to be a quadriplegic or paraplegic, to be disabled for life or brain damaged".

Some of the clips show dangerous street races. One, filmed at night, shows a race with a white sports car weaving between traffic along Sheikh Zayed Road near what appears to be the Dubai Marina. Some drivers even promote their stunt-driving skills. One video shows a white four-by-four "drifting" - driving on two wheels with the car propped on its side - around a roundabout near what appears to be Al Ain. The accompanying caption says: "This talented driver is known as Khalid Baloch."

Another video, shot at night on Sheikh Rashid Road near the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Dubai, records a speed of 150kph as loud music blares. "Scotty's starting to gun it a little bit," says a voice on the video. "I apologise for the [bad] tunes and I apologise for the really fast speed." @Email:jgerson@thenational.ae