Dubai set to tighten rules for new drivers

New measures for new drivers include lectures on road safety.
NEWS

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Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) is eyeing a raft of new rules aimed at improving the safety of new drivers on the city’s roads, a senior official has said.

New measures such as forcing novice motorists to attend lectures on road safety could be in place as early as next year, ahead of a national scheme that will tighten restrictions on drivers in the first three years of their licence.

“What we are doing in Dubai is looking at restrictions we can impose which may not be that complicated and which we can enforce quite quickly,” said Ahmed Bahrozyan, CEO of licensing at the RTA. “Simple things like requiring students to undergo lectures on safety – those are easy to implement and don’t have to be at the federal level.

“We would only renew [an individual’s] license if they brought their certificate from the driving centre to say they have attended certain lectures. We’ll probably look at doing this in 2012.”

The RTA is in talks with UAE Ministry of Interior to introduce a nationwide law clamping down on newly-qualified motorists by restricting the type of car they can drive and the situations they are allowed to drive in.

Under existing laws, novice motorists are not barred from night or motorway driving – despite this not forming part of the driving test - from driving powerful cars or from taking passengers.

Bahrozyan said a restricted licence, such as that seen in Canada, New Zealand and Australia, could help tackle the high rate of road traffic accidents seen in the UAE.

“We don’t want to implement such a system in Dubai alone because we feel it is a very comprehensive system which would need to be implemented countrywide to be effective,” Bahrozyan said. “But we feel strongly about this system.”

The UAE has one of the highest rates of road deaths in the world. The rate of traffic fatalities per 1,000 population in Abu Dhabi outstrips that seen in Africa, the US and the EU, according to data on the emirate’s Health Authority’s website.

In 2010, RTA figures show there were eight fatalities per 100,000 people caused by road accidents, down from 21.9 deaths per 100,000 in 2005.

A survey by UAE University in February showed more than a quarter of young Emirati males admitted to speeding, tailgating and illegally overtaking other drivers. More than half said they don’t wear a seatbelt, talk on their mobile phone while driving and drive the wrong way down one-way streets.

Bahroziyan said the RTA was also planning to streamline driving curriculums across driving centres in Dubai, to ensure motorists are given highway and night driving experience.

“Teaching people to drive at night will become mandatory, and highway driving will also become part of the curriculum,” he said. “At the moment… people can suddenly get a license and go on a highway when they have never been on one before, which is quite dangerous.”
 

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