DUBAI // Safety on the country’s roads is a major concern for two thirds of the UAE, according to a YouGov survey on road safety.
The survey, commissioned by The National, revealed that 73 per cent of residents in Dubai were worried about road safety, 71 per cent in Sharjah and 65 per cent in Abu Dhabi.
Those most concerned were Asians, with 83 per cent, and westerners, 84 per cent.
“The issue of road safety is definitely one that is becoming more pronounced,” said Britta Lang, principal road safety scientist at the Transport Research Laboratory in Abu Dhabi.
“Generally, there has been more of an effort to tackle it in recent years, and that has led to more awareness among the public.”
The survey spoke to 1,208 people – 240 Emiratis, 611 Arab expats, 301 Asians and 56 westerners and other nationalities.
It took a broad look at the issues affecting the community, touching on seat belts, texting while driving, taxi and bus drivers, as well as police patrols.
The number of people who said they were personally involved in a crash had dropped by 10 percentage points in the past five years.
The survey found that, in 2009, 22 per cent of people said they had been in a crash in the past three months. In this latest survey that figure had dropped to 12 per cent.
“When you look at the results from 2009 and compare them to this year, the overall impression is very positive,” said Lara Al Barazi, associate director of YouGov.
Three per cent had been involved in a pedestrian accident, while 8 per cent had witnessed one.
The study also found that 13 per cent had travelled in a car without wearing a seat belt in the past three months but that figure was far higher for Emiratis, at 23 per cent.
Emiratis were also less likely to make their children wear a seat belt – 13 per cent said they did not make their children use them compared with an average of 8 per cent.
The most serious offences were regarded as jumping red lights, with 83 per cent considering it extremely serious. Other issues of concern were car racing (76 per cent), reckless pedestrian crossing (74 per cent) and texting or surfing the internet (72 per cent) while driving.
The offences that were considered to be of lesser significance were eating and drinking while driving, over-tinting of car windows and smoking with other adults in the car.
The survey found that 32 per cent of respondents admitted to having taken calls while driving in the past three months, while 17 per cent had read or sent out text messages.
More than half had witnessed others using a mobile phone while driving.
Twelve per cent of respondents had been stopped by police for reckless driving over the past three months – but nearly half of them were not fined.
Nevertheless, exactly half of the people surveyed said they disagreed that penalties for road offences were not severe enough.
The majority of people – 58 per cent – believed the system of fining drivers was primarily a revenue-generating initiative, and only 23 per cent said increased traffic fines would make them change their driving habits.
Comparatively, 88 per cent said road-safety campaigns could be an effective way to combat road offences.
The survey found that 32 per cent thought taxi drivers were the most dangerous motorists on the road, followed by young drivers (26 per cent) and lorry drivers (22 per cent).
More than half – 54 per cent – disagreed with the statement that they felt safer in a taxi than in their own vehicle.
Although 32 per cent said they thought school bus drivers were the safest on the road, 95 per cent said drivers should undergo background and police checks before driving a bus, and 89 per cent said drivers should undergo an alcohol breathalyser before every shift.
Ninety per cent said that bus drivers who exceed the speed limit should be banned from driving.
In March, it was revealed that the number of road accidents had dropped by 23.5 per cent – from 6,700 in 2011 to 5,124 in 2013.
In addition, the number of fatalities also dropped by 9.5 per cent from 720 to 651 over the same period.
The survey also found that 85 per cent of respondents had noticed an improvement on the roads since the introduction of the points system, and 84 per cent believed speed cameras significantly helped to reduce accidents.
Sixty five per cent said road safety had improved over the past 12 months, and 21 per cent said it had stayed the same.
Abu Dhabi residents, in particular, were the most likely to believe that the situation had improved (71 per cent), while Dubai residents were least likely (54 per cent).
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(via The National)