Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

UAE's young motorists could have 'black box' recorders to monitor driving

The proposal would make installation mandatory for 18 to 21-year-olds across the UAE

Young drivers have been urged to show more patience and consideration. Pawan Singh / The National
Young drivers have been urged to show more patience and consideration. Pawan Singh / The National

New motorists in the UAE could soon be made to install a black box device that monitors the standard of their driving.

The Federal Traffic Council is considering a proposal to make it mandatory for drivers between the ages of 18-21 to install the device in their vehicles.

The black boxes, otherwise known as in-vehicle data recorders, would monitor the driver’s overall performance including their speed, use of indicators and how hard they braked.

The proposal was welcomed by some of the UAE’s leading road safety experts.

“We have been lobbying for the introduction of such a scheme for some time,” said Thomas Edelmann, managing director of RoadSafetyUAE.

“We need to do more to help young drivers, rather than demonise them, and this would certainly help to achieve that.”

Mr Edelmann said that in-vehicle data recorders had already proven to be a success in other countries.

We have to encourage them to drive well and not put them under added pressure by treating their every move with suspicion

Major General Mohammed Al Zafeen, Federal Traffic Council

Variations of these devices have been used for decades in other parts of the world. In the US, car manufacturer GM has used them since the 1970s to measure the performance of airbags in crashes.

In the UK, all police vehicles are fitted with recorders and there has been a crash recorder on the market in Germany for more than 15 years.

Many are small enough to be connected to the vehicle’s cigarette lighter.

Proponents believe that driver performance will improve due to their knowledge that any infringements would be recorded, leading to possible prosecution.

“My own son is at the age where he can obtain a driving licence and I am making it mandatory for him to download an app on his phone that measures his driving performance,” he said.

Mr Edelmann even suggested such devices could be used for all drivers to improve standards.

“It should be the lawmakers that are making it essential for all drivers to have such apps or devices," he said.

The black box could also help motorists to save money when it came to insurance, with drivers able to show insurers they adhere to speed limits, safe driving and braking,

But the chairman of the Federal Traffic Council, which is comprised of senior police officers and traffic officials, said there was some way to go before the scheme could be implemented.

“Young people could get around it by driving a car that belonged to their parents instead, in fact many of them do,” said Mohammed Al Zafeen, who is also assistant commander-in-chief of Dubai Police.

“We already have a system in place that means anyone who reaches 24 points for traffic violations will have their licence suspended for a certain period of time.

“We have to carefully weigh up if the proposed scheme would be more efficient than that.”

He also urged caution against adopting any scheme that stigmatised certain age groups.

“We have to encourage them to drive well and not put them under added pressure by treating their every move with suspicion,” he said.

“The vast majority of this age group are driving well and are fully compliant with the rules of the road.”

A recent study by RoadSafetyUAE found that young drivers, between the ages of 18 and 24, were twice as likely to be killed on the roads as older drivers.

Daniel Albuquerque, assistant professor of transportation engineering at Al Ain University, said the proposal could eradicate some of the major safety issues on UAE roads.

“A lot of the problems on UAE roads are caused by bad driver behaviour such as tailgating,” said Mr Albuquerque.

“There is an extremely valid argument for the introduction of something that can help pinpoint the cause of accidents.”

Updated: July 5, 2019 08:03 AM

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