There’s no getting away from the fact that driving on roads around the UAE can be a nerve-wracking experience. And if you’re new to the country, trying to navigate your way around seven-lane highways and spaghetti junctions with your kids in the back is enough to send even the most confident drivers around the proverbial bend.
But times are a-changing and the city’s Ministry of Interior has safety firmly at the fore this year, as it brings in a raft of new laws – along with some pretty hefty penalties – aimed at deterring irresponsible drivers who fail to keep their families safe while they are on the roads.
“Wearing a seatbelt while travelling in a car will be compulsory under new laws signed by the Minister of Interior in March this year,” Thomas Edelmann, a local road safety campaigner, explains. “The law will be in place by mid-June 2017 and drivers will be fined Dhs400 and receive four black points on their licence for failing to ensure that all adults and children in their car are buckled up. Drivers will also be fined Dhs400 for each passenger who is found without a seatbelt on inside the vehicle.”
So, the rule going forward is that every person travelling in a vehicle must wear a seatbelt or use a child safety seat, and it is the driver’s responsibility to ensure all passengers are complying with the law. On top of that, for the first time ever, parents failing to use a child safety seat for kids up to four years of age will face another Dhs400 fine and four more black points on their licence. “Children under the age of ten and every person who is less than 145cm in height will also be banned from sitting in the passenger front seat,” Edelmann adds.
If you are new to the UAE, some of the flash points to watch out for while driving on the roads are, unfortunately, the main causes of deaths, injuries and accidents. These include sudden lane swerving, abrupt lane changing, speeding, tailgating, entering a road without checking if it’s clear, jumping red lights, tyres bursting and illegal overtaking. So it goes without saying that driving defensively, allowing plenty of time for journeys, and having emergency numbers, insurance and roadside assistance details to hand at all times are simply no-brainers.
Drive safely, folks!
Four more Ways to stay safe on the roads
If you’re involved in a non-serious collision, ensure all passengers are safe, take photographs of the scene, swap contact details and call the police straight away on 999. They will decide if a patrol vehicle is needed.
Traffic jams are common on the roads here. Don’t get caught on a ten-kilometre stretch with no water or snacks in the car for little people, especially now the weather is
If you spot a dangerous driver on the roads, don’t just rant about it to your friends, make sure you report it to Dubai Police toll free on 800 4353. Doing so will help keep dangerous drivers off the road and make it safer.
Plan your route
Newly opened and old roads are swapped and changed frequently as Dubai continues to expand. Apps such as Google Maps and Waze are handy for checking routes and queues before you set off.