x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE's need for speed unrivalled

Nearly six out of 10 motorists in the Emirates admit they like to break the speed limit, according to a new international survey.

Call us the Fast and the Envious. Drivers in the Emirates are unrivalled in their desire for speed and in their envy of friends with better cars, according to a survey of car owners in 18 countries. Fifty-nine per cent of UAE motorists admitted they liked to break the speed limit, the survey found. That is more than double the global average of 26 per cent and far more than the next most speed-obsessed country, India (47 per cent).

A penchant for robust engines and a desire to flaunt horsepower may contribute to the problem 63 per cent of UAE car owners said they were "jealous of friends who had better cars" than them. Only 16 per cent of those surveyed in other countries felt the same way. "The findings show traffic authorities in the UAE have a challenge on their hands despite all the well-publicised campaigns to promote safe driving," said Kurt Thompson, an executive with Synovate, the market research firm that conducted the survey. It covered 18 countries and 13,000 car owners, including 629 in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai.

Masood Khonji, 30, says he speeds sometimes when he is late, but finds it nerve-racking to share the roads with cars whizzing by at 160kph. "I don't like this speeding," the Iranian manager of an auto repair shop said. "I'm trying to go lower with my speed with the policies of the road, but some people will go more than 160 and that's very crazy. We're afraid." Mr Khonji said the fastest he will speed is 20kph or 30kph above the posted limit. He said speed cameras and steep fines were a major deterrent.

The survey showed UAE drivers were more emotionally attached to their cars than people in other countries, Mr Thompson said. Sixty-one per cent of UAE car owners agreed with the statement "I want a car that will turn heads", compared with 27 per cent in other countries. On the other hand, he said, "there's a real tug-of-war between wanting to be environmentally conscious and taking pleasure from showing off or even speeding in your car".

Fifty-seven per cent of car owners said they would prefer "green cars" to their "dream cars" if price were not an issue the same as the global trend. Among the other findings of the survey, conducted in July, was that the UAE has the highest rate of single-car households. France topped the list in terms of overall ownership, with 95 per cent of families owning one or more cars, but the UAE led the way in one-car households at 67 per cent.

Tighter spending due to the economic crisis may have something to do with the UAE figures, Mr Thompson said. "There are a large number of expat households in the UAE, and most of those have one primary income earner," he said. "Even though car prices are relatively low compared to the rest of the world, those households with only one working person may decide they can get by with just one car." mkwong@thenational.ae