Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 May 2019

Safe driving distance should be 10 times more than recommended 5 metres

Cameras will be installed from next month to crack down on tailgating by penalising motorists who did not keep at least 5-metres from the vehicle in front.
Cars on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. From next month, Dubai Police will fine and give points to any drivers who tailgate. Satish Kumar / The National
Cars on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai. From next month, Dubai Police will fine and give points to any drivers who tailgate. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // The recommended safe driving distance between vehicles should be revised to at least 10 times more than the 5 metres advised by Dubai Police, according to motorists and road safety experts.

While people have welcomed police plans to install cameras from next month to crack down on tailgating, by penalising motorists who do not keep at least 5 metres from the vehicle in front while driving at 80 kilometres per hour or more, the overall reaction was that this distance was not enough.

“There must be a misunderstanding, it cannot be 5 metres. That is the length of one car and is absolutely not enough,” said Thomas Edelmann, founder of Road Safety UAE.

“Tailgating is among the top killers on our roads and it is a huge problem. The underlying problem is reaction time, so on Sheikh Zayed Road if you see a car in front of you braking, your brain must first react, then your foot pushes the pedal and then the car mechanism is activated.

“So, if travelling at 80kph, it is advisable that a car should be three seconds behind in normal circumstances, and five seconds in bad weather.”

Technology such as cameras and the presence of police patrols on the roads will act as a deterrent to motorists, he said.

Dubai Police said 11 people have died because of tailgating in the first four months of the year.

People drive too close in the UAE so do not have time to react, said Lesley Cully, founder of the Buckle Up in the Back campaign which recommends safety restraints on children.

“At 80kph the distance should be at least 53 metres,” she said. “Cameras are an excellent idea and it’s a start, but it can be improved on. I’m sure the police will do a rethink. To do a proper emergency stop is frightening and people trained on this realise how difficult and dangerous it can be. People think their car will stop immediately – it won’t.”

Independent analysis conducted by the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory showing reaction times at 112kph was highlighted at a road safety workshop in Dubai last month.

At that speed, a motorist under normal conditions with no distractions would travel up to 31 metres before responding to danger. A driver on a mobile phone would travel an extra 14 metres before even reacting to a situation on the road, the research showed.

Using mobile phones while driving only heightens danger on the roads, said Riyaz Neem, an advertising agency owner.

“I see people texting, talking on their mobiles and abusing the privilege of driving, so any initiative to make Dubai a safer place is welcome,” said Mr Neem, who also follows the principle of keeping a 50-metre gap while driving.

“When drivers are tailgating at 100-120kph, you can’t see the front fender, they are less than 2-3 metres away. The faster speeds people travel at here require more braking distance and 5 metres is still dangerous.”

Drivers found tailgating are fined Dh400 and get four black points on their licence.


Updated: June 10, 2015 04:00 AM