There’s Nothing Glamorous About Causing Deaths - Gulf Business
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There’s Nothing Glamorous About Causing Deaths

There’s Nothing Glamorous About Causing Deaths

Fast driving in the UAE must be punished more severely.

As I drove to a business meeting in Abu Dhabi from Dubai last week, one thing was topmost of my mind (and unfortunately for the boss it was not the day’s keynotes).

“The next time I drive here I might not make it,” I thought to myself.

You see, while my Golf GTI may be nippy, the blighter is no match for the errant 4x4s that power past at 180kph upwards, shaking my windows, with scant regard for my life or humanity in general.

It’s genuinely frightening, and for good reason – 33 people died on the roads in eight weeks at the start of this year in Dubai.

With a total of 400 Dubai crashes in a population of two million in two months, that equates to a one in 5000 chance of being in a nasty accident. Obviously, it’s not a lottery worth losing.

So the news that the government is considering lowering the legal driving age of 18 years is chilling to say the least.

Last week, Abu Dhabi-based newspaper The National whipped up a storm when it published a blog by Emirati writer, Ayesha Al Khoori, which deified and glamourised dangerous driving.

“Now, when I’m on the roads of Abu Dhabi, you could say I fly at all times! I try to not go over 160kph, but 180kph isn’t unheard of,” wrote the 22-year-old journalist.

“I drive fast because I love it. I feel liberated and excited; in a boring life the thrill of fast driving provides the drama I need to keep me going.”

I scrolled up and down the web page, searching for the ‘joke’ button. But in the end there was nothing funny about an uncensored look into the cultural conditioning of a young Emirati girl.

And it seems much of the country agrees with me. The 70-plus blog comments on The National website ranged from the bemused to frothing-at-the-mouth.

“Is there a local equivalent of April fool’s day I’m not aware of?” said a commenter named Elise.

“Please put a large sign with your name on it on your car when you are driving so that I know to stay away from you,” pleaded Robert.

“I think this is the most irresponsibly appalling article I have ever had the displeasure of reading,” wrote Ana.

Recent statistics from Dubai Police found that Emiratis, at 12 per cent of the population, topped the list of drivers causing traffic accidents in January and February with 51 accidents in which six people died and 89 were injured.

While Ayesha wrote “speeding isn’t the biggest cause of road accidents… a number of which I’ve been involved in”, it seems the statistics beg to differ.

Sudden swerving caused 13 deaths and 83 injuries, while disregarding other motorists and failing to leave enough space between vehicles killed 12, Lt Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, head of Dubai traffic, told The National‘s Arabic sister paper Al Ittihad.

With road accidents responsible for nearly 70 per cent of injury-related deaths amongst Emirati youths, Ayesha really needs to think more carefully about her own well-being, that of others, and the barmy message she is sending to the rest of the world about the UAE.

Towards the end of her article, she does have the common sense to add: “Buying Lamborghinis for children as soon as they pass their test… what were the parents thinking?”

True, but I also have to ask, Ayesha, what were you thinking?

Putting aside your debate about lowering the age limit for a moment, with Dhs10,000 in fines in the last year alone, I’m more concerned with why you still have a licence.

Alicia Buller is the editor of Gulf Business

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