Driving in UAE 'best in Abu Dhabi, worst in Sharjah'

A new biannual survey reveals the happiest drivers are in Abu Dhabi, with many reporting less congestion and safer roads.
Dubai congestion.
Dubai congestion.

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Driving behaviour in the UAE remains stubbornly poor despite significant investments and improvements in road infrastructure, according to the inaugural Zurich RoadSafetyUAE Driving Dashboard.

The study, commissioned by global insurer Zurich and RoadSafetyUAE.com and conducted by global market research company YouGov, reveals that across the seven Emirates, Abu Dhabi has the happiest drivers whereas motorists in Sharjah feel most at risk and frustrated.

The dashboard is based on the views of more than 1,000 UAE residents about five key checkpoints: safety, collisions, traffic, fines and enjoyment.

Commenting on the launch of the Zurich RoadSafetyUAE Driving Dashboard, Brian Reilly, CEO of Zurich Insurance Middle East, said: “There are plenty of opinions about the experience of driving in the UAE but little in the way of hard facts.

"This ongoing biannual study will generate data and insights to encourage a culture of safe and responsible motoring, while supporting the goal of UAE Vision 2021 to catapult the Emirates into the world’s top five safest countries to drive.”

Respondents praised the efforts of UAE government institutions to build new roads, bridges and access roads, with 68% reporting that road infrastructure has improved in the last six months and just 12% stating the opposite.

Yet 53% of the 1,005 people who took part believe the UAE’s roads have become more dangerous over the same period with 61% of respondants stating that driving has become less safe in Sharjah. 

The majority surveyed reported seeing more speeding vehicles on the roads and more tailgating in all of the Emirates, compared with six months ago, with 75% stating that other road users are also more distracted now. 

Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE.com, commented: “Despite comprehensive efforts to enhance and improve our roads, the irresponsible behaviour of significant numbers of motorists remains a stubborn challenge.

"Speeding, tailgating and distracted driving are all killers and yet all are entirely preventable. The UAE authorities are doing their part to make our roads safer and more efficient, it is now the turn of the country’s drivers to fulfil their end of the bargain.”

One in five drivers who took part in the study admitted being in a vehicle collision in the past six months, with men (22%) significantly more likely than women (16%) to have been in a crash.

Drivers in their mid-to-late 20s were the most likely to have had a collision (26%), followed by those aged over 40 (20%) and younger drivers aged 18-24 (20%).

Congestion was revealed as an issue for motorists across the UAE with nearly two thirds (64%) of respondents reporting longer commutes, however 17% said they now enjoy a quicker drive to work than they did six months ago.

Commuters in Sharjah (73%) and Dubai (66%) are most likely to have experienced an increase in their commute time, compared with 57% in Abu Dhabi.

In fact, a quarter (25%) of Abu Dhabi drivers have actually seen a reduction in their commute, with just 14% in Dubai and 10% in Sharjah reporting the same.

More than a quarter (27%) of drivers surveyed had received a speeding or traffic violation fine in the last six months, with men (28%) more likely than women (20%) to have been ticketed.

Drivers in their mid-to-late 20s were the most likely transgressors (32%).

Despite a perception that the roads are less safe, 41% of respondents say their enjoyment in driving on UAE roads has incresed over the past half-year period, compared to 29% who enjoy it less.

Once again, drivers in Abu Dhabi had the most positive perceptionbs, with 50% reporting an increase in their driving enjoyment compared with 39% in Dubai and 32% in Sharjah.

Kailash Nagdev, UAE managing director for YouGov commented: “With 53% of residents saying driving has become more dangerous despite improvements in the quality of UAE roads, the findings only highlight the importance of the opinions of the very people who navigate the UAE roads every day to help the government and its residents enforce the sustainable measures necessary to make the Emirates a safer and more enjoyable place to drive.”

The Zurich RoadSafetyUAE Driving Dashboard will be repeated every six months with the next scheduled for release in the final quarter of 2015. 

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