In the wake of strict new fines that have been proposed for not wearing seatbelts, a joint survey conducted by RoadSafetyUAE and QIC Insured found that as many 50 per cent of Emirati drivers did not feel seatbelts were necessary. The poll covered over 1000 drivers in the UAE and found that half of Emirati drivers and over a third of young motorists covered in the survey fail to wear seat belts when they drive. While 5 per cent felt that it was not required for short trips, and 55 per cent felt that they were safe enough despite not wearing seatbelts. 10 per cent felt that seatbelts messed up their clothes while 11 per cent said that seat belts are “inconvenient to wear”. This highlights the need for more stringent enforcement of rules and greater public awareness about the necessity for seatbelts.
At a time when road fatalities are on the rise, the study which was commissioned by QIC Insured and RoadSafetyUAE revealed the “alarmingly low” levels of awareness regarding road safety. Another alarming trend that the survey revealed was that even while travelling in the back seats of taxis and cars, only 11 per cent of the passengers buckle up or car.
Speaking about the survey, Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE said that in view of the new law which will make it compulsory for back-seat passengers to buckle up, specific awareness efforts need to made to educate motorists and their passengers in the UAE on the importance of the seat belt as a safety device in a vehicle, and its role in prevention of injuries and fatalities in the event of a crash.
He added, “That will require a massive effort by all stakeholders directed towards back-seat passengers – from parents with kids in the car to the responsible motorists who must make sure everyone in their vehicle wears seat belts.
The UAE police is all set to announce new laws that will make it compulsory for all passengers to wear seatbelts. The driver will be held responsible for all passengers in the vehicle and will be liable to pay a fine of AED 400 fine and to get four black points on his license if anyone in the vehicle is not wearing a seatbelt. The law is expected to be implemented after a period of three months.
According to Mr. Edelmann, seat belts save lives in the range of 40 to 60 per cent. When it comes to the children, this goes up to 80 per cent. He added, “There is no reason not to wear seat belts in our cars. Each and every one has to wear seat belts at all times.”
Overall, 78 per cent of those who participated in the survey said they always wear their seat belts. When classified by region of origin, the figure for Arab expatriates is 83 per cent, Asian expats 82 per cent, and 100 per cent of westerners say they buckle up while driving.
In the case of Emiratis, only 38 per cent of Emirati front-seat passengers always wear seat belts whereas in the case of Arab expatriates, this goes up to three in five people.
Roshanara Sait, director of Ciel Marketing and Events which is involved in organizing road safety campaigns, said that the findings pointed to a lack of education. She said that that it is highly surprising that people who do not wear seatbelts while riding in a car will normally wear seatbelts on a plane, though the chances of a plane crash are much lower than a road crash. She said that normally they use a simple ‘seat belt convincer’ and other simulators to change the mindset of people. Just like Mr Edelmann, she also welcomed the proposed new laws.
“But we need to see more creative initiatives carried out by the Government, the media, the education sector and by corporations to effectively increase seat belt use,” he said.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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