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Wed 26 Jan 2011 01:18 PM

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Emirati males admit: 'we speed, tailgate, and overtake expats'

Poll of young Emirati males reveals speeding, jumping lights, tailgating seen as respected behaviour

Emirati males admit: 'we speed, tailgate, and overtake expats'
Nearly two thirds of Emirati males polled admitted being involved in one or more car crashes

More than a quarter of young Emirati males admit to reckless driving behaviours such as speeding, tailgating and illegally overtaking other drivers, a survey has revealed.

A poll of 466 Emirati men aged between 18-33 showed more than half don’t wear a seatbelt, talk on their mobile phone while driving and drive the wrong way down one-way streets.

Around 2.6 percent admit to consistently jumping red lights, the survey by 98 students at UAE University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences said, in a report posted on state-run news agency WAM.

A minority admitted they are strongly tempted to overtake if their car is fancier than the vehicle in front, while 16 percent said they will overtake if the driver in front is an expatriate or from another emirate.

“[This] is a behaviour scientists call ‘territoriality’,” the report said.

Partly to blame is the culture of praise among Emirati males for risk-taking behaviour – and for not being punished for it, the university team said.

“Tailgating – approaching cars at high speed, flashing lights to budge cars out the way – is seen as respected behaviour among many Emirati young males, as is obtaining reductions in traffic fines,” the report said.

By contrast, abiding by traffic laws is seen as “unmanly or cowardly” and a characteristic of an unskilled driver, the poll showed.

The UAE has one of the highest rates of road deaths in the world. The rate of traffic fatalities per 1,000 population in Abu Dhabi outstrips that seen in Africa, the US and the EU, according to data on the emirate’s Health Authority’s website.

In 2008, nearly 70 percent of injury deaths in the capital were caused by road traffic accidents.

Unsurprisingly, nearly two thirds of Emirati males admitted being involved in one or more car crashes, with more than a quarter suffering injuries.

The report, which also polled 52 Emirati women and 60 Arab expatriates in the UAE, found that illegal driving practices among nationals began early.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents in the three groups said they started driving surreptitiously, or with parental permission, before the legal age of 18.

More than seven percent began driving between the ages of 8 and 12-years, and more than half – 52 percent – were regularly behind a wheel between the ages of 13 and 17-years.

An estimated three quarters of traffic accidents in the UAE are caused by human fault rather than car or road conditions, flagging an urgent need for better education of drivers.

“Changing the attitudes, beliefs and values that are behind reckless driving is not going to be easy or quick,” said Dr Taha Amir, who oversaw the study.

debbie 8 years ago

Well i guess the country has got their work cut out for them. serious issues here.

Ella 8 years ago

I don't think there is any expat here who didn't know or hadn't felt this already.

gordon 8 years ago

It may not be quick to change the beliefs and values but it is quite easy.

Punishment for putting other people at risk of life and limb should be severe.

RTA should share accident reports of individuals and cars with the insurance companies.

The insurance companies should price insurance based upon risk and not just a simple percentage of the value of a car.

That way good drivers get rewarded with lower insurance, higher risk drivers get penalised and in some cases priced out of the market.

Soussou 8 years ago

So it is skill when you potentially kill yourself and/or others? Interesting concept.....("abiding by traffic laws is seen as a characteristic of an unskilled driver")
This clearly shows immaturity and ignorance - and how wrong their priorities and value sets are in life are

Jon 8 years ago

we needed a poll to tell us this?

GreenT 8 years ago

The roads are good and inviting, the cars are fast and fancy and the guy in front of me doesn't give way but thinks he/she belongs to the left lane. What do I do? Yes, flash, tailgate and scare them off! We all do it.
Oh, and I'm an expat female, BTW.

Still alive driving in Dubai 8 years ago

Does this actually come as a surprise to anyone?

ahmad 8 years ago

I wonder how should an expatriate comment on this article?

fausto nepote 8 years ago

you are absolutely right but this is the first time that we see it published by a local newspaper

jj 8 years ago

Didn't need a poll to know all of the above. Question is what are they going to do about it? Nothing to be proud of being # 1 for...worlds highest fatality rate? Seriously. Ignorance breeds more ignorance.