Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 February 2020

Dubai motorist's anti-tailgating bumper sticker causes stir on social media

'The closer you get the slower I drive' that is the message one Dubai motorist is sending to tailgaters in the city

The bumper sticker that caused furore online. Courtesy Reddit
The bumper sticker that caused furore online. Courtesy Reddit

An anti-tailgating bumper sticker on a car in Dubai has caused quite a stir online, prompting a debate over what kind of messaging is acceptable to display publicly.

It also got people talking about tailgating, one of the leading causes of accidents on the UAE’s roads, and how best to respond to the illegal practice.

A photo of the bumper sticker was widely shared online and read ‘The closer you get, the slower I drive’. The sticker is aimed at motorists who drive closely behind the vehicle in front of them in an attempt to intimidate the driver ahead to speed up or get out of the way.

The photo was taken by a motorist at a traffic light on Jebel Ali’s busy Al Yalayis Street last week.

Though many social media users appeared to agree with the sentiment, Asghar Bukhari, partner at law firm Prestige Advocates & Consultants, said the sticker may not be entirely legal.

Conducting acts of enforcement or punishment of incorrect behaviour of traffic participants is the mandate of the police forces, not us as individual motorists

Thomas Edelmannn, Road Safety UAE

“Bumper stickers are not allowed in the UAE unless a motorist has authorisation to put it on their car from a respective traffic department,” he said.

“The UAE allows freedom of expression within limits. But being a country where over 200 nationalities visit and live, the authorities have erred on the side of caution.”

Mr Bukhari said what may be inoffensive to one person may be highly offensive to another.

“As with all cities, care is taken so that public displays don’t offend the cultural and religious morals and sensitivities of the wider society and other road users — not to mention safety.”

He said the best attitude to adopt is to stay clear of bumper stickers that could be deemed to cross the line and suggested motorists get authorisation from the traffic department to be on the safe side.

Meanwhile, those campaigning to reduce the number of accidents on the UAE’s roads say the message on the bumper sticker could actually lead to more accidents.

“From a road safety perspective, we cannot endorse such a sticker,” said Thomas Edelmann, from the campaign group Road Safety UAE.

“Any forms of reckless driving — and deliberate slowing down in front of other vehicles is definitely an act of reckless driving — should not happen.”

He said retaliatory acts towards dangerous drivers, no matter how irritating or wrong they are, should be left to the authorities.

“Conducting acts of enforcement or punishment of incorrect behaviour of traffic participants is the mandate of the police forces, not us as individual motorists,” Mr Edelmann said.

“Get out of the way, move to a lane to your right and prioritise your own safety and the safety of your passengers and all other traffic participants around you.”

But some residents said they found the approach refreshing and potentially effective.

“I think more bumper stickers with messages like this one would have a positive impact,” said Dubai-resident Asif Somji, who strongly feels more needs to be done to address the issue.

“If I was tailgating someone and saw a sticker with a statement like that, it would definitely make me realise that what I’m doing something wrong and I'd probably stop."

Mr Somji said heftier fines for traffic offences like tailgating and speeding would also go a long way in making the country’s roads safer.

“People only react when it hits the pocket,” he said.

“Authorities should also focus on new and young drivers in order to create a good future driving culture in the UAE.”

According to officials, drivers who fail to maintain a safe distance between the car in front of them has always been among the top five causes for road fatalities on the UAE’s roads.

A study by academics from UAE University in Al Ain this year revealed that tailgating and reckless driving caused an overwhelming 50 per cent of accidents between 2012 and 2017.

The culprits tend to be younger drivers, aged between 18 and 24. A quarter of young surveyed by Road Safety UAE this year admitted to tailgating other vehicles.

Another study, conducted by Road Safety UAE and QBI in 2017, found that nearly half of motorists in the UAE do not know the official safety distance between cars.

Experts say if a car is driving at 100kph in good weather, it should be at least two seconds, or 56 metres, behind the vehicle in front of them.

Updated: November 23, 2019 07:29 PM

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