Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 6 December 2019

Drivers wary of hitting the road during UAE iftar rush

Motorists say they try to avoid pre-Iftar traffic as a road safety group calls for caution and patience

The latest hi-tech initiatives to tackle congestion were under discussion at a Dubai traffic conference. The National
The latest hi-tech initiatives to tackle congestion were under discussion at a Dubai traffic conference. The National

Dubai residents are steering clear of the roads during the run-up to iftar due to safety fears caused by drivers rushing home to break their fast.

Police have repeatedly warned drivers not to rush, take their time and not tailgate.

Some motorists said they avoid driving in the half hour leading up to iftar, while one said fellow road users are often "more aggressive" during the period.

They voiced their concerns as a UAE road safety campaigner urged people to take extra care while driving during Ramadan, a time when there is traditionally a rise in the number of injuries and fatalities resulting from accidents.

A combination of fasting and high temperatures can result in dehydration and low blood sugar which has an adverse effect on concentration, vision and reaction, according to Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE.

Just like any other time of the year there are people driving safely while

others are not

Hannad Abi Haydar

“I deliberately avoid driving in the half hour just before Iftar takes place,” said teacher William Hennessy, 28, from Ireland, who has been a resident of Dubai since 2013.

“People are often rushing to get home so they can break their fasts with their families.”

A total of 30 motorists died in road accidents in the UAE during Ramadan last year. However, that number represented a significant decrease from the 51 who died during the same period in 2017.

However, the drop in reported fatalities and accidents did not stop a number of drivers from being wary about taking to the roads, especially just before Iftar.

“I find drivers are more aggressive just before Iftar time,” said Sarah Dabbas, 33, a mother of two from Germany who works as an interior designer.

“Many drivers just leave their homes a few minutes before iftar and are trying to reach their destination as quickly as possible.”

Mr Edelmann, from Road Safety UAE, said it was vital that motorists show the utmost regard for other drivers throughout Ramadan.

“Road traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities peak in the holy month of Ramadan,” he said.

“It is sad to witness hundreds of accidents and dozens of fatalities every year.

“Ramadan is a very special time and it’s all about being with the ones close to you, which creates a lot of traffic.”

Studies conducted by Road Safety UAE suggested that Tuesdays were the most dangerous time to be behind the wheel during Ramadan, with Sundays being the safest day of the week for motorists during Ramadan.

However, not everyone believed the driving experience was more fraught with danger during Ramadan.

“These tales of drivers speeding at 200kph seem like an urban legend to me,” said Lebanese-national Hannad Abi Haydar, 40, who owns the Spill the Bean coffee shop company in Dubai.

“I don’t think the driving experience changes at all during Ramadan. Just like any other time of the year there are people driving safely while others are not.”

Updated: May 7, 2019 07:47 PM

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