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Road & Driving Safety Regulations in the UAE

UAE Road Safety

One of the most advanced and urbanized countries in the Middle East, UAE is also home to some of the best road network infrastructures in the world. As smoother roads have enabled better driving experience, but for the awry driver or someone not used to driving on highways and six-lane roads, it can get slightly intimidating when everyone around is driving at 100 or 120 KMPH, thereby, increasing the possibilities of an accident. 

To keep things on the road under control, RTA has integrated technology with conventional traffic regulations enhancing road safety in the country. This guide will walk you through the road and driving safety laws in the UAE to keep yourself and others safe on the road. 

Road Safety in UAE at a glance

An incredible job has been done by the UAE government who has laid down roads through mountains and deserts all across the country. However, this ease of commute has also given birth to a culture of rash driving by impulsive drivers. This being the reason, UAE ranks at a top position when it comes to road accidents and deaths in the region. In light of the rapidly increasing fatal road accidents, in 2017, the federal traffic laws were entirely amended, and since then stricter regulations and penalties for road accident prevention have been put into place. This has helped in bringing down the road accident casualties in the country from 6 in 100,000 to 3 in 100,000.

UAE’s Road Accident Stats 

A survey conducted by the World Health Organization and Dubai Statistics Center in 2019 has concluded road accidents to be the second-ranked cause of deaths in the UAE. Some of the main highlights from the WHO report on UAE’s traffic stats are:

Causes of Road Accidents Without Casualties 

  • Wrong change of lane – 20%
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol – 20%
  • Not maintaining safe distance – 19%
  • Lack of judgement – 10%
  • Failure in complying with lane rules – 6%
  • Negligence in following the traffic signal – 5%
  • Wrong reversing – 3%
  • Over speeding – 2%

Reasons for Fatal Car Accidents

  • Driving without a license – 11%
  • Driving in the wrong way – 12%
  • Entering the road without checking if it is clear – 13%
  • Not minding the distance between the car in front – 18%
  • Negligence and lack of attention – 30%

Car Accident drivers Age-wise Distribution

  • Less than 21 years – 9%
  • 21-29 years – 37%
  • 30-39 years – 34%
  • 40-49 years – 14%
  • 50+ years – 6%

Road Accident Casualties Stats as of 2019

  • A minimum of 2 people dies on the road every day
  • 98% of the times the person on the passenger seat does not wear a seatbelt
  • 465 annual accidents for not minding the traffic signals and giving priorities to the pedestrians

In a statement released by the Ministry of Interior reported in Gulf News in 2019 stated a whopping 34.2% decrease in fatal road accidents all across UAE. With a significant increase in the total number of cars on the roads annually, this percentage helped the country in achieving one of the highest levels of global traffic safety. 

** Source: Dubai Statistics Center and Ministry of Interior

UAE’s Road Safety Laws In A Nutshell

All the Emirates in the UAE have common traffic regulations which have been made stricter in light of the increasing fatal road accidents in the country over the years. 

Basic Road Safety Rules 

  • Seat belts are mandatory for the driver and all the passengers in the car, including the ones sitting in the rear seat. Children under four years of age should be seated on the Child Safety Seat in the car.
  • Maximum speed limits are specified for each different type of road in UAE. They vary from 40, 80 to 120 KMPH for residential areas, service/secondary roads to highways, respectively. These road limits are very strictly enforced all across the country.
  • While over speeding will lead to a traffic violation, it is equally important to abide by the minimum speed limits on the road. Driving too slow on the main highways can cause traffic and it can even result in an accident.
  • For all the private and commercial cars, the drivers must carry the car insurance and registration papers at all times. 

Important Road Safety Rules

  • Drunk driving or driving under the influence of drugs is a serious traffic offense. Pleaded guilty will result in a hefty fine and license suspension for one year, besides jail term if the court decides. 
  • Tailgating is another serious offense in the UAE. Only the Dubai Police Force cars and ambulances are allowed for tailgating in case of any emergency.
  • Not abiding by the traffic signal rules can result in fatal accidents. The driver proved with negligence in complying by the traffic signal rules is entitled to a traffic fine of AED 1,000, plus vehicle confiscation for 2 months.
  • Stopping a car without any genuine reason in the middle of the road, the shoulder lane, or no parking spots is not allowed as it can result in an accident. In case of a car breakdown, the driver should turn on the hazard lights in order to notify other drivers to slow down their speed to avoid accidents.
  • A 50% window tint is allowed for all cars in the UAE due to weather conditions. However, as it affects the visibility for the driver during the night, more than 50% tint on the windows will result in immediate traffic fines.

Driving Safety Guidelines In UAE

Studies have shown that 95% of road accidents globally are a result of human error. When driving in a country like UAE with relatively higher speed limits, the driver needs to be attentive on the road while practicing the general defensive driving norms, which ensures safety on the road. 

In UAE, 18 years is the official age to apply for UAE’s driving license, which is issued after the applicant passes a theory test followed by a road test. The theory test designed by RTA includes the general road signs and signals which the driver should be familiar with while on the road. It is a basic rule of thumb to practice defensive driving at all times. 

Some of the main highlights of driving safety in UAE are:

  • Rear-end collisions are the most common type of road accidents in UAE which happens solely due to lack of negligence from the driver. When driving during the rush hours or not, it is always important to maintain a safe distance between the vehicles. In poor visibility conditions, such as rain or fog, the safe distance should be made longer.
  • The use of mobile phones while driving is a serious offense and it can result in fatal accidents. RTA advises the drivers to hold the steering with both the hands at all times and refrain from diverting their concentration from the road by using mobile phones or engaging in other similar activities.
  • Be wary of hazard signs on the road and immediately slow down the speed when there is a hazard sign by any driver. It is used to indicate an emergency or accident.
  • The rules for pedestrian crossing are very strict in UAE for both the driver and the pedestrian. While approaching a pedestrian crossing, it is a good practice to slow down the car. Pedestrians use the traffic control buttons to turn the traffic signal to red so they can cross the road. Concentration and attentiveness of the road can help in avoiding any potential accidents at the pedestrian crossings.

What To Do If You See/Experience Rash Driving?

Rash driving in the UAE has been one of the biggest challenges faced by RTA. Despite implementing strict traffic regulations and advanced technology to control over speeding and reckless driving, road accidents have still been reported regularly due to this problem. 

To combat this issue, the Dubai Police has dedicated a special traffic helpline where drivers can report incidents of rash driving and tailgating. In case of any such incident, the procedure includes pulling over to the side of the road and call 901 to report the incident citing the plate number of the driver in question. 

Abiding by the traffic regulations and reporting incidents of reckless driving is a moral duty that can help in reducing road accidents and saving lives on the road. The best-recommended practice is to get yourself covered with comprehensive insurance which will cover all costs of damage to both the parties involved in a road accident. It is always the driver’s attitude on the road which can make significantly enhance safety standards and safe lives.