At the moment, the issue of speed driving has become rather significant, because it causes death of hundreds of people in the UAE. The current work will provide the description and investigation of this problem. Much attention will be paid to the causations and consequences of the high speed at the individual, national and global levels. The governmental actions and initiatives will be considered for the acknowledgement of the steps that in fact were made and are estimated to be conducted in the nearest future. The final part of the paper will contain various recommendations focused on grading of the causations. In addition, it will contain the outcomes of the survey and examples of the imaginary interviews. The general description and precise analysis of high speeding in the UAE enables to understand this problem and develop effective and efficient mitigating measures.
Analysis and Discussion
Definition and Importance of the Issue
The United Arab Emirates is a fast developing country, which is considered to be among the most dangerous countries in the Middle East in terms of driving because of the considerable number of traffic accidents. According to the nationwide statistics presented in the article UAE Road Deaths Sharply Decreasing Every Year (2015), during the first quarter of 2015, 1,232 of traffic accidents were registered, with 147 traffic deaths and 1,684 traffic injuries. The majority of the committed traffic violations are connected with speed driving, notwithstanding the fact that the limits are rather high and vary for different roads. The general speed limits are from 60 to 80 kmh in urban areas and from 100 to 120 kmh in highways.
The crucial significance of the issue is based on the understanding that speed driving stands among the major preventable causes of death in the United Arab Emirates: road traffic accidents cause about 58 % of injury deaths and represent more than 10 % of all deaths, which is among the leading causation of death among young men between the age of 13 and 15 years old (Bell, 2013). However, the majority of the road accident victims are male between the age of 20 and 30 (The National, 2014). Notwithstanding the decreasing of the number of fatalities by 8.1% (from 1340 to 1232 traffic accidents) in the previous year, this figure remains rather high (Ruiz, 2015). Thus, the issue of high speeding that leads to the death cases on the road should be addressed in the nearest time for the further lowering of number of deaths.
The Causes of the Issue
The above mentioned report performed by YouGov links the issue of speeding in the UAE that causes deaths with the improvement of the quality of roads in the recent years (Ruiz, 2016). However, other researchers mention some additional causation which may give rise to the discussed problem. Mariam M. Al Serkal (2016) reported in his article that the major causes of traffic accidents are the sudden line changing, misjudgement, insufficient distance to the car in front, entrance to the road without checking its clearness, insufficient attention, speeding, jumping the red lights, absence of line discipline and miscellaneous (Serkal, 2016). According to the information presented in the article Speed responsible for 90 per cent of Dubai accidents, about 90 % of those traffic accidents occurred because of speed driving (The National, 2014). Usually, they involve recreational motorcycles, because their drivers exceed the speed limit of 100 kph and have no protection clothes (The National, 2014). Among the major reasons of speed driving among motorists are the following: to have fun (53 %), impress others (45 %), due to the knowledge of location and sites of speed cameras (39 %) strong belief that the good roads were created for speed driving (29 %), drivers’ intentions to test the abilities of their vehicles (22%), and “justification that speeding is more culturally accepted in the UAE than at home (21 %)” (The National, 2015). However, the general causations of speed driving among the drivers of all types of vehicles are lateness (67 %), habit (45 %), and awareness in terms of the location of the speed cameras (39 %) (The National, 2015). It should be also noted that according to the outcomes of the special survey provided in the article Speed limit should be the limit on UAE roads (2015), one of the primary causations of the accidents is “a wide gap between maximum and minimum speed limits” that causes tailbacks as some drivers think that they can drive slower and surprise other drivers (7Days, 2015).
Thus, different surveys provide various outcomes in the investigation of the causations of the discussed issue: habit, lateness, good roads, awareness in terms of the location of cameras, and other reasons. To summarise, speeding is caused by the combination of different factors which have their roots in the deep understanding of the UAE drivers that they can break the law and endanger their lives and the lives of other people because of their personal desires.
The Effects of Speed Driving in the UAE
The issue of speed driving has a considerably negative effect on the life and health of all the participants: drives of different vehicles, pedestrians and even common people. As it was mentioned above, speed is considered to be among the major causations of the traffic deaths. The higher the speed is – the greater the risk of the crash and the possibility of serious injury are, because there is a rise of the mechanical energy that should be absorbed by a human body. During the traffic accident, the energy interchange happens. The major negative effect on the body is caused by velocity (United Nations Road Safety Collaboration, n.d.). Moreover, the raise of speed leads to the increase of the distance of travelling at the time of a driver’s reaction and the distance necessary for the stoppage of a vehicle. The additional emphasis should be placed on the fact that speed has a considerably negative impact on a driver’s attention.
The vulnerable road users (like pedestrians, motorcycles and moped drivers) are under the higher risk of injuries than car drivers, because they are completely unprotected or have only a limited protection. The danger to their health also substantially depends on the speed of the vehicle. This dependence is shown in the Figure 1 (United Nations Road Safety Collaboration, n.d.).
At the national level, the discussed issue has several reflections. The first one and the most obvious is that it causes the lowering of the population of the United Arab Emirates. As it was mentioned above, every year, more than thousand people die in a result of traffic accidents. The second and more significant causation is that such dangerous situation leads to the rise of consciousness among drivers and common road users. Constant surveys and researches are being conducted by the governmental and non-governmental agencies concerning speed driving and the danger on road, as well as the observation of numerous dangerous situations on roads and active actions of the government (that will be discussed below) provide the understanding of the considerable danger of speed driving. The additional emphasis should be made on the fact that in the recent years, more attention has been paid to the prioritisation of the road safety in the development of the infrastructure (Ruiz, 2015). This is reflected in the greater number of fences, bridges and pedestrian crossings. The further development of the infrastructure requires considerable efforts and time for the performance of relevant surveys, determination of the effective changes and their realisation. Moreover, the “road driving culture in the UAE is evolving very slowly due to the constantly changing members of our [country’s] communities” (Ruiz, 2015). Numerous immigrants and visitors of the country bring with them their “bad habits and poor driving practices” (Ruiz, 2015).
The speed driving and the related issues cause a significant damage to the country’s image at the global level. Having a high level of the general development, the safety in the UAE is considered to be much lower than in the European countries as per the WHO statistics (Shamsi, 2014). In the global rating of safety, it places the 69th place on par with Albania and Costa Rica (Shamsi, 2014). Such low index was given, because drivers and road users are in “a strong disregard for the rules of the road” (Shamsi, 2014). This opinion is also supported in the article Driving in UAE – be defensive! (2015). The author names the UAE as the country with the highest rates of road fatalities in the world and warns tourists from all over the world who intend to come to this country to be especially careful on the roads (Sylvester, 2015).
The Actions of the UAE Government Directed on Addressing the Issue of Speed Driving
The government of the country actively works in order to address speeding on the roads of the UAE. It has developed the set of laws and penalties for the violations connected with speed. Some of them will be presented in the Table 1 (Fullard, 2016).
Table 1. Penalties for the speed driving in the UAE
The additional attention should be paid to the system of black points used in the UAE. These points represent the form of punishment for breaking of the driving laws which may cause the loss of license, incarceration or impoundment of vehicle. If 24 points are obtained during a one year period, the driver can lose the license (for 3 months in the case of the first violation, for 6 months in the case of the second violation, for one year with the necessity of re-passing of the driving school in the case of the third violation).
This table shows that at the current moment, the country has rather strict penalties for breaking the speed limit. However, they do not stop drivers from breaking the laws.
Among other actions focused on addressing the discussed issue is changing the infrastructure by building a substantial amount of bridges and placing more radars on roads. The government also performs constant surveys for the determination of the most dangerous parts of the roads and causations of traffic accidents, development of measures for the mitigation of these issues and increasing the drivers’ awareness. It introduces the initiative of “the 20 kph leeway given to drivers speeding on highways” that causes a confusion and encourages some drivers to increase the speed significantly (Nasir, 2016). Among other propositions, which have been already introduced, but not approved yet, are the raise of the minimum speed limit from 60 kph to 100 kph, with marking these limits on the lanes, increasing the number of a speed radars by putting them every 2 km of the highway) and division of the work hours on two parts (from 7 am to 2 pm, and from 7.30 am to 2.30 pm) with keeping schooling at 8 am (Shouk, 2016). The last initiative will enable to discharge roads from a heavy traffic.
Some of the initiatives have already been realised. For example, since the first January of the current year, the government and the Ministry of Interior launches the campaign focused on the increase of the drivers’ awareness concerning traffic issues (Wam, 2016). This campaign is represented by the slogan “Observe the right way” that highlights its major aim (Wam, 2016). This was developed for making the stress on the significance of following traffic rules and regulations in order to “be cautious before taking actions…because the road is for everyone” (Wam, 2016).
At the Citizens’ Level
This group of recommendations will be concentrated on the increasing of the citizen’s awareness concerning the necessity to obey the traffic laws, rules and regulations. This direction was chosen, because the above mentioned analysis of the traffic incident statistics showed that the major cause of traffic issues is the breaking of laws because of various reasons: for fun, because of lateness, for checking the vehicles’ abilities, and other similar reasons. Thus, only increasing of the personal desire to follow the rules will lead to a considerable improvement of the situation on the roads of the UAE.
This strategy is supposed to be realised by the psychological influence on the road users. It is proposed to set the billboards in the urban area with the pictures of car crashes with the caution slogans. These billboards should be placed in cities and towns, because on the speed roads such images can distract the attention of drivers. Moreover, in the urban area, they will also attract the attention of all people (i.e. current and future auto and motor drivers, pedestrians, and etc). These billboards will show what happens with people who break the traffic laws. It is supposed that such impression of viewers will make them more cautious on roads.
At the Governmental Level
At the governmental level, it is recommended to sharpen the punishments for breaking the speed limit, especially for motor drivers. This statement is based on the understanding that these road users became the parties involved in the traffic collisions more often, as it has been provided by the figures above. Due to the fact that the UAE is considered to be a country with the high level of living, the rise of the fines will not cause a considerable improvement of the situation, because the citizens and visitors have the ability to pay them. Thus, it is proposed to sharpen the traffic regulations in the form of more recent vehicle confiscation for breaking the laws.
Moreover, it is recommended to realise the initiatives concerning the increase of the number of cameras and changing of the work hours which were noted above. In addition, the UAE government should direct its efforts on the further improvement of the infrastructure by building the additional bridges, fences and pedestrian crosses.
At the Global Level
The described issue should also be addressed at the global level by attracting the attention of the young population to the necessity of abidance of traffic laws and regulations. As it was mentioned above, the majority of people involved in the traffic incidents are the youth. Moreover, particularly this audience represents the future drivers. Thus, the increasing of awareness of the necessity to abide the traffic rules among children, teenagers and young people will lead to the mitigation of the discussed issue in the present time and the future, as well. This can be reached by the establishment of the global entertainment campaign with the elements of creativity. For example, people can compete in terms of the knowledge of traffic rules or in safe driving; they can paint pictures and make photos which will be introduced in the social media. This campaign will increase the involvement of the young audience in this initiative and improve their knowledge about the traffic laws and the necessity of their following, irrespective of the country of residence.
The preparation of the current work was connected with the conduction of a special survey comprising of 60 drivers (30 men and 30 women) of the age from 20 to 40 years old in Dubai, the UAE. The questions concerned the driving behaviours and breaking the speed limits. It is notable that 58 (96 %) of respondents did not exceed the speed limit in locations, where the radar is placed. This shows that those people did not want to be caught for breaking the law and be punished, hence they clearly understand that speeding is unlawful. The survey showed that 49 respondents (81 %) have never driven faster than the 140 kmh. During the previous six months, 11 individuals (18 %) were involved in the traffic incidents. The majority of respondents (61 %) agreed that the major causation of accidents was the lifestyle of drivers.
The Interview with Salem Al Ameri
Interviewer: Good morning. Today, I would like to speak about the issue of speeding on the roads of the UAE. Do you recognise the fact that it represents a considerable problem for the country?
Salem Al Ameri: Yes, surely. It causes thousands of accidents every year and has a considerably negative impact on the image of our country as it is recognised as one of the less safe.
Interviewer: What is the major causation of the breaking of speed limitations?
Salem Al Ameri: I think, it is the behaviour of drivers. They have an insufficient respect to laws and regulations.
Interviewer: Does this statement concern all the drivers?
Salem Al Ameri: Yes, surely. However, the majority of law breakers are the youth on motorbikes. They are really crazy. They can do amazing and dangerous things for fun.
Interviewer: And how does the police want to stop them?
Salem Al Ameri: We plan to sharpen the restrictions and place a greater number of radars. I think, it will help.
Interviewer: Have you got any recommendations to drivers who want to avoid traffic incidents?
Salem Al Ameri: Yes, surely. Obey the laws in any situations, even if others break them.
The Interview with Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen
Interviewer: Good morning. Today, the country faces the sharp issue of high speeding. Please explain, do you make something to address it?
Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen: Yes, surely. We conduct special investigations in order to determine the most dangerous regions and introduce some changes there, like making additional bridges.
Interviewer: Do you think that speeding is the cause of the significantly improved road quality?
Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen: Actually, no. Better roads enable more convenient driving, but they will not stipulate breaking the laws if the driver does not want to break them.
Interviewer: Maybe you are right. I have heard that it is even being planned to decrease the speed limit. Is it right?
Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen: Yes, there are some suggestions that will lead to the improvement of the situation. Currently, they are thoroughly checked and analysed. In case of any changes, I will inform you.
Interviewer: Thank you very much. So, the last question. What you will recommend to pedestrians for the assurance of their safety?
Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen: I think that they should be really careful on the roads, because some of the drivers do not stop even before the pedestrian crossings.
Thus, the current work provides the general description and analysis of one of the major preventive causes of death in the UAE – high speed on roads. Notwithstanding the fact that the number of traffic accidents decreased in the previous year, this issue is considered to be rather sharp, because it leads to the causation of hundreds of deaths and injuries. Moreover, it represents the country as the one with the lowest safety levels in the Middle East and in the global scale. The government recognises the problem and has developed the special legislature with fines, as well as vehicle and license confiscations. The radars are placed on the major roads of the country for obliging drivers to follow the speed limits. Some changes in the infrastructure lead to the raise of the safety of pedestrians. These initiatives are recommended to expand for the better addressing of the discussed challenge. The new initiatives can be introduced in the form of billboards which will show the traffic accidents, sharpening of the laws, and involvement of the youth in the process of abidance to regulations. The introduced survey and imaginary interviews supported the data and information taken from the UAE newspapers and other sources presented in the current work.