x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The young drivers who may never grow old

For some young drivers, the death of a friend in a high-speed accident is not reason enough to slow down.

The university students Aref al Mazrooei, 21, left, and Ahmed al Saadi, 20, like to speed.
The university students Aref al Mazrooei, 21, left, and Ahmed al Saadi, 20, like to speed.

DUBAI // The death of a friend in a high-speed accident is not enough to put some young people off the idea of driving at breakneck speeds.

Ahmed al Saadi, a 20-year-old Palestinian, and his friend Aref al Mazrooei, a 21-year-old Emirati, both have friends who have died in crashes while speeding.

Mr al Mazrooei knew five people who died in accidents, and seven out of 10 of his closest friends had been in serious car crashes.

He admits he drives over 120kph on Emirates Road because he knows the radar only flashes at 140kph there.

But the speed traps do slow him down.

"In Dubai, I am usually more careful, but if I am in a hurry to reach university, I would speed after each radar going at 160kph."

And for Mr al Saadi, the reality has not yet sunk in either.

"When I speed, I forget about [my friends who died], but when I remember what happened to them, then I slow down," said Mr al Saadi, who first sat behind the wheel of a car at the age of 14 but only got his licence a year and a half ago.

"On Wednesday, I was driving at about 200kph because I was following a girl who was speeding. It's just the extra hormones, I guess," he said.

Mr al Saadi says driving is a way to blow off steam and he views it as a way of life.

Not surprisingly, he admits to having been involved in a few accidents of his own.

Mr al Mazrooei does not think speeding is the main cause of road deaths. He said he almost got into "what could've been a really bad accident" because of texting while driving. He has been careful since.

"I think texting while driving is bigger than anyone knows and worse than speeding," he said.

Mohammed Rajab, a 21-year-old Egyptian, only got his licence two weeks ago and was recently involved in a serious accident, but continues to speed.

"I got into an accident about three or four months ago while driving and broke my leg and it was severe," he said.

"But I love the adventure; I love to speed."

Mr Rajab often drives at 220kph and once he drove at 320kph while using a friend's car.

He admitted that from the age of 19 he drove without a full licence for more than 18 months.

"I did not get it because I knew I would drive dangerously," said Mr Rajab.

He said he will only stop driving fast when he gets married. In the meantime, he finds solace in speeding.

"I feel excited when I do it, I feel the danger and it's just a risk you take and if I am alive after that and nothing happens, it means you've accomplished something."

"It's fun - you cannot stop," he said.