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Brother’s crash prompts tailgating campaign in Dubai

DUBAI // A woman whose brother suffered a severe brain injury after a car crash has launched a campaign against tailgating.

In August 1990, Nikki Carroll was living and working in Paris when her brother James, who had just received his A-level results, was a passenger in a car being driven in Dublin, Ireland, by a friend who was a newly qualified driver.

“Due to high speed and distracted driving, the 17 year-old driver lost control of his vehicle, crashing through a concrete bollard on the other side of the road,” said Mrs Carroll, 42, who has lived in Dubai for four years.

“My brother was a passenger in the front seat and did in fact have his safety belt fastened. But nothing except less speed and more attention could have prevented him acquiring a most serious brain injury, ruining his life forever.”

James remained in coma for six months at the Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, and was later moved to a rehabilitation hospital. Now 42, he is dependent on his mother Edna and carers to get through the day.

“It brings back awful memories, as you can imagine, as I have an 18-year-old son,” said the mother of two.

Three weeks after her brother’s accident, her aunt Blanche was killed in a road accident caused by a distracted driver at the time mobile phones were introduced.

Mrs Carroll, who set up Gulf Auto Safety Trading in Dubai last year, has since campaigned against tailgating, speeding and distracted driving.

The campaign aims to “increase the level of traffic safety awareness, promote higher driving standards, a more courteous and considerate driving environment and a greater respect for the law”.

“It is my belief that every man, woman, and child should be educated in safe driving practises,” she said.

Dubai Police said 11 people died because of tailgating in the first four months of the year.

Last year, 227 accidents caused by tailgating killed 22 and severely injured 16 in Abu Dhabi. Of 2,975 accidents in Dubai, 57 were a result of tailgating.

Eighteen months ago, Mrs Carroll came across Brake Plus, a device designed to deter tailgaters.

Sixty three Dubai Taxi Corporation cabs are now fitted with this brake-light system that alerts the driver behind when the taxi has to stop or slow down.

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority had created a device, called Back off Radio, which alerts drivers when they are travelling too close to the car ahead.

Police this month activated radars and issued Dh400 fines to those tailgating on Dubai’s roads, while in March Abu Dhabi police launched the anti-tailgating campaign, Your Fate is Measured by Your Distance, on UAE Together’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“The police are doing a fantastic job,” Mrs Carroll said. “But we need more police presence to spot tailgaters, pull them over and hand out fines.”

Radar cameras alone, she said, cannot act as a deterrent to aggressive tailgaters and angry drivers.

“For many people a financial penalty is of no consequence,” she said.

“Perhaps it is time to consider withdrawing their licences so they are banned from driving any vehicle for a prescribed period of time.”

She believed awareness campaigns should be more graphic and hard-hitting.

“Unless they go on to highlight the potentially catastrophic consequences of dangerous driving – in graphic detail if necessary and within what is socially acceptable on the target audience – they are little more than vacuous statements,” said Mrs Carroll.

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(via The National)