Young male Emiratis are more likely to suffer injuries on the roads while distracted and underage driving needs to be cracked down on, according to new research.
A UAE University study into crashes and collisions that have led to lives being damaged or shattered concluded that a fresh approach should be taken to implementing educational programs for young UAE drivers.
Three members of the university’s College of Medicine and Health Sciences analysed all patients aged between 15 and 24 who were admitted to Al Ain’s two hospitals with traffic-related injuries, or who died as a result, over an 18-month period.
The study discovered that of the 333 patients whose injuries and circumstances were assessed – and who had an average age of 20 - 87 percent were male and 72 percent were UAE nationals.
The research said “rollovers” were the most common form of crash and accounted for 14 of the 27 drivers of passengers who were thrown from the vehicle following the collision.
It also showed an alarming reluctance of drivers and passengers to wear seatbelts, with use of such restraints being “extremely low”.
According to the UAEU research team, the results of the study show that the promotion of traffic safety and the enforcement of road safety legislation is “necessary”, and there is “a need for implementation of culturally-relevant, evidence-based educational programs” for new young drivers.
The team said: “Despite legislation and increased enforcement in the UAE, the use of restraints among the youth is still very low. Information on traffic-related injuries requiring hospitalization for this specific age group in our region is highly needed. We aimed to study the epidemiology, risk factors and outcomes of hospitalized road traffic-injured youth patients in order to give recommendations for prevention.”
The research showed that UAE nationals accounted for the highest percentage of drivers injured, with the percentage of rear-seat passengers, pedestrians and cyclists injured being significantly higher among non-nationals.
It noted that 12 drivers and six motorcyclists injured were under the UAE licensing age of 18, adding that only 12 percent of drivers and 4 percent of front-seat passengers were restrained at the time of the crash.
The average crash speed was 97.2km/h, with 42 percent of vehicles exceeding the 100km/h speed limit at the time of the accident.
The research team also highlighted that “distractive driving” is a major contributor to crashes, with 5 percent of the injured drivers surveyed having been using mobile phones when they were involved in an accident.
The authors also said that, while the study was a specific time-limited research project that analysed a period from 2006 to 2007, they believe “the risk factors for youth traffic injuries are still the same”.
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