x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Reckless driving flaunted on internet

Police say they will investigate videos featuring stunts and horrific accidents posted online.

Police said they would investigate dozens of videos posted on websites that show what appear to be young people in the UAE driving recklessly on public roads. The videos, many of which can be seen on the popular website YouTube, show numerous drivers performing dangerous stunts in car parks, or young men standing atop vehicles moving at high speeds. A few capture what look to be horrific accidents in which young men are ejected from speeding 4x4s or saloon cars disintegrate after their drivers lose control and tumble down roadways.

When told about the videos by The National, officials at Dubai Police said they had not seen them but would begin investigating. "We will conduct an investigation into the issue to determine any breach of the law," said Col Saif Muhair al Mazrouei, the deputy director for traffic at Dubai police. According to Ministry of Interior statistics, for the first nine months of this year, 26 people died and 121 were injured in the UAE as a result of reckless driving.

"Even if there is no eyewitness to the act of dangerous driving and the said individuals haven't been caught in the act, video evidence can be sufficient to apprehend a reckless driver," Col Mazrouei said. Dubai Police will impose strict punishments on people found to be driving dangerously, including impounding vehicles and charging black points, he said. The video images seem to highlight a subculture of dangerous driving among young people. Informal dune-bashing and drifting competitions are popular among teenagers and young men.

Col Gheath Hassan al Zaabi, the director of traffic at the Ministry of Interior, said apprehending reckless drivers based on evidence from the Internet could be difficult. "But we do have people at the police who are monitoring it," he said. "If we find such things and can act on them, then we would proceed with an investigation." There has been concern among some officials in the UAE motorsport industry that in spite of efforts to curb reckless driving, too little has been done bring it under control.

Young drivers are said to have been killed or injured during the informal competitions, prompting officials at some motorsport clubs to hold unsanctioned but monitored motorsport events as an alternative to completely unregulated settings. Civil Defence, police and ambulances, for example, are typically on hand at such events.

However Mohammed bin Sulayem, a rally-driving icon and the president of the Automobile and Touring Club for UAE,said his organisation would not be involved in any unsanctioned events. The club and other motorsport organisations have been working to introduce a set of rules and regulations to formalise drifting as an official motorsport in the UAE. "If the reason for having the unsanctioned competition is to take them off the streets and place them under strict safety requirements - using helmets, ambulances and fire brigades on guard, oversight by government like having the police there - then, yes, it could be acceptable," Mr Sulayem said.

hnaylor@thenational.ae Tomorrow in our motoring section, we drift with a master.