Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Stereotypes won't save lives on the UAE's road

If you listen in to 'small talk' at any gathering in Dubai, the first topic won't be the #1 icebreaker in the rest of the world, the weather.  In Dubai, the hot topic will be the roads and the poor standard of driving which is usually illustrated by someone's most recent near-death experience.  Its lethal not only out on the roads themselves, you're not even safe walking on controlled pedestrian crossings either as I know from experience. 
In answer to a recognised problem of dangerous driving, the UAE government has released a 'study' which purports to show that women drivers are causing accidents and traffic jams by driving too slowly thereby causing, nay, compelling, irate drivers to speed, flash their lights, tailgate or rip down the hardshoulder of the highway at high speed. To push the analogy, I suppose some of these impatient drivers then die in high speed pile-ups that are of course, no fault of their own but are caused by the 'soft driving' of female motorists (A familiar ring? You know, 'its not my fault, he threw himself on my cattle prod etc').
Rather than resorting to 'studies' of useless stereotypes why not tackle at least one real problem head-on, do something about parents who allow unrestrained children in their cars, how about huge fines for parents who care so little about their children that they will, for example, drive on SZR at high speed with a child on the driver's lap.
Consider the road toll in Saudi Arabia, its the highest in the world, in 2009 it was 44 deaths per 100,000 people, the number of female drivers involved......zero.

Source: Arabian Business
Photo: Uppercut Images
We get all sent all sorts of suspect publications here at Arabian Business, but this week’s clear winner is a report entitled ‘Soft Driving: Confusing for Others, or a Model?’
‘Soft driving’ is a moniker that has been attributed to the “more deliberate” approach of female drivers, who are “by nature less rushed”, according to the report from the UAE’s Ministry of the Interior. So really, it should say ‘Women Drivers: Confusing for Others, or a Model?’
It seems like an odd question to ask in the first place, as anyone in the UAE who claims ‘confusion’ at the sight of a woman behind the wheel probably shouldn’t be driving themselves. I wouldn’t like to be on the same stretch of road as a driver who flips out that easily: do they lose hand-eye coordination completely, or just forget where they live? Either way, they sound like a genuine danger, so take away their keys.
For the record, the study finds that of the 3,172 road traffic accidents that were recorded in Abu Dhabi last year, just 256 accidents were caused by women drivers. Men caused a shocking 92 percent of all accidents, fender-bending their way into the record books and contributing manfully to the 963 sorry corpses scraped off UAE roads in 2009.
So if they can’t blame the carnage on women, then what’s going on? In another report issued at the beginning of the month, not leaving enough distance between vehicles was identified as the cause of 547 accidents last year.
That was followed by lack of concern for other drivers (542), not ensuring the road is clear before entering (531), and lack of lane discipline (324). 267 accidents were caused due to jumping the red signal, 148 due to reckless driving and 122 due to speeding.
Of the above categories, ‘lack of concern for other drivers’ is the only one that could possibly encompass that deadly sin of soft driving (aka driving like a girl). That leaves an awful lot of death and destruction squarely on the shoulders of those whose primary concern is to get from Point A to Point B as fast as possible, regardless of how safely they do it.
The Abu Dhabi police handed out 135 fines to motorists driving below the minimum speed limit on highways and inner-city roads last year. Fair play, those drivers broke the rules, and were punished. But let’s not miss the point: slow drivers are more of a nuisance than a menace, and should be the least of the Ministry’s worries.
Let’s spend less time asking odd questions based on baseless stereotypes, and more time targeting those who race down our roads as though they are playing some videogame in which no-one is really killed, maimed, widowed or orphaned.
It’s the impatient, inconsiderate idiots that overtake recklessly and without a care for other road users, who deserve to be the focus of our opprobrium. Someone should remind them that it’s better to get to their destination a few minutes late, than never at all.

1 comment:

  1. How about starting to actually prosecute emiratis? That'll take take care of about 90% of traffic offenses.