Legal driving age limit in UAE will not be reduced

New curriculum for learner drivers

  • By Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 January 19, 2010
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Roads and Transport Authority dedicates year 2010 to improve the driving skills by introducing several new measures including a new and improved driving curriculum.
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Dubai: A proposal to reduce the minimum driving age from 18 to 16 is not being considered any more as the authorities concerned say it is "unnecessary".

"Reducing the age limit for new drivers was just an idea and we are not considering it at all at our level," said Ahmad Hashim Behroozian, Chief Executive Officer of the Licensing Agency at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News on Sunday, Behroozian said the agency has not made any changes in its policy regarding the minimum age of drivers.

"We have not recommended any such proposal to the federal government either," he said. However, he said there was no point in introducing such a rule in Dubai only.

Since it will have impact all over the country, such a policy should be formed only by the federal government.

In October last year, Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of Dubai Police's Traffic Department, had proposed — in light of a study done by him — to reduce the legal driving age to 16 from the current 18. The proposal had triggered a massive countrywide debate with mixed response from the people.

Behroozian said the agency was more focused on improving the driving standards in Dubai.

"We have dedicated year 2010 to improve the driving skills by introducing several new measures including a new and improved driving curriculum," he said.

The agency has studied the existing driving courses being offered by driving institutes and has spotted a number of weaknesses in the training process of the new drivers. It was noted that different driving institutes train drivers using different methods and courses.

Unified approach

"We want to have a unified drivers' training curriculum to ensure standardised training procedures for all the drivers," Behroozian said.

The new curriculum, which is being developed in consultation with the driving institutes, will be introduced by the end of this year.

The curriculum, Behroozian added, would be a combination of classroom training and on-road practical training and it will have modules from "easy to difficult". "There will be different modules and the institutes will conduct assessment tests of students before moving on to the next training module," he said.

The aim of introducing the new curriculum is to train new drivers, exposing them to the different driving conditions such as driving on highways, varied road conditions and at night. "Once the new curriculum is enforced, highway and night classes for all drivers will be made compulsory," Behroozian said.

He said the new training system would start with a pilot project enrolling some students and would formally be introduced by the end of this year. "It is very big and important project which is set to change the driving culture in Dubai."

The agency introduced a driving manual last year to set training procedures for drivers and the trainers.

The CEO said that all the existing "signal tests" for new drivers would be replaced with a comprehensive "theory test" from April this year. "It will be a computer-based test, which will test a student's knowledge about signals, driving hazards and their reaction to different scenarios on the road," Behroozian said.

The test will be available in English, Arabia and Urdu.

What do you think is the appropriate age for people to start driving? Would you feel comfortable being in the passenger seat of a car driven by a 16-year-old motorist? Leave a comment by clicking on the 'Post a comment' link below.

Comments (30)

  1. Added 16:13 January 19, 2010

    To the corniche guy, what if they allow us to atleast train within the compounds of the driving institute? I'm 17 and I need to get to my university which is really far from my home and taxi is not an option since I would have to pay 100 Dirhams per day and my parents cant drive me because they have work to do so I end up taking the bus and arriving late to my university! the bus ride takes as long as 2 hours! I need more time to focus on my studies and a car would definitely help me! I'm not saying that they should lower it to 16 but atleast let us practice at 17 until we get our license at 18!

    John Doe, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 15:44 January 19, 2010

    Traffic rules are designed to cater to a wide variety of individual driving skills. Some drivers may be very good, others mediocre, and still others may not be as good, or reach as well behind the wheel and the rules have to take this into consideration. At age 16, some young adults will be mature enough and ready to drive there is no doubt about this. Unfortunately, the rules have to consider the average young adult, whose skills and reaction time may not have matured yet. By the age of 18, hopefully this maturity would have set in. Some may look at this as punishment for those who are ready to drive at 16, but the law has to apply to all irrespective of the driving skills or level of maturity.

    James, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 15:27 January 19, 2010

    I think that driving age should be increased to 21 years.

    Abeer, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 14:52 January 19, 2010

    I thank the reader for acknowledging the incident that happened to me at Sharjah Cornishe, however i don't agree with him/her when he says that 16 is the right age for children to learn driving. Why would you teach them driving when it is of no use to him or her at that point of time. What is the point in teaching them driving so young and then not allowing them to drive? That doesnt make sense! Its like buying chocolates at home and then telling the children not to take it from the ref. Wont the children make a fuss and trouble you for your car keys????The money shelled out for driving class could be used for learning something useful instead. Once you teach children to drive they are not going to be patient and wait for one fine day until they turn 18 to drive. What will be the result? They will start pressurizing you ( the parent ) to buy them a car or give your own cars - to drive. And if you are going to refuse, they are going to simply borrow somebody elses car secretly and still drive. No meaning in teaching driving when the legal limit for driving is still 18 in the UAE. The kids will only be teen offenders and rub the wrong side of the law. And 16 being the right age to learn, i agree for other things, but definitely not for driving. It is the age where - like some reader rightly pointed out - emotions are very high and the urge to race and show off to the girls or opposite sex far outweighs the urge to drive responsibly. What would you say for that?

    Anon, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 14:11 January 19, 2010

    Giving permission to a 16 year old to drive will only increase the rate of acidents in UAE.. Even grown-up will think twice before going out as to being smashed by a 16 year old driver!.

    Aisha Hassan, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 13:30 January 19, 2010

    I will definitely agree to some extent, to the post by one of the respected readers mentioning the incident happened to him at Corniche Sharjah. However most of us opposing license age to be reduced, forget the fact how desperate and keen a youngster is to learn driving. 16 is the perfect age to learn new things like driving. I am not asking to reduce the driving license age to 16, but my point is that 16 year old should be given permission to "learn driving" in an approved driving school. One should also note that a good or a bad driver can come from any age. A mature adult can over speed and cause accident as well as an educated 17 year old can drive smoothly to his/her university. All an all, the solution would be to permit youngsters to get an admission in a driving institute only.

    Sarmad Hassan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 13:07 January 19, 2010

    i don't think it is correct for age of 16 but the age of 17 is much better the children's grew up they will enter their University so it will be helpful in the point of me 17 could be better for boy & girl.

    Abdul Jabbar, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 12:32 January 19, 2010

    No way! I would not recommend that 16 year olds be given the power to sit on the wheels and wreak havoc in the city. I would rather recommend that the government increases the minimum age for obtaining a driving license to 20 or 21 years. That would be more appropriate. Children at that age dont need to drive and i also reprimand parents who buy vehicles or allow young children to drive without license. Children at the ages of 16 above dont know the dangers of overspeeding, and that is not to say that all teenagers overspeed. But it is still not worth taking the risk. Parents need to take the responsibility of driving their children from and to college or arrange alternate transport for their wards. Even the little devils here in dubai, as young as 13 drive around dune buggies and scooties so dangerously on the road. Leave alone that, let me narrate another incident. A couple of days ago me and my wife were sitting by a bench in Buhaira Corniche sharjah, and a gang of young cyclist nearly ran over our feet. It was not an accident but done deliberately to hurt us by the naughty kids who turned back and laughed after hurting us, Wonder what their parents teach at home. This just reflects the upbringing of the children and the fault lies with the parents. I was even very shocked to notice a dagger(!!!!!)in the hands of one of the boys. Why do boys at the age of 12 or 13 need daggers, sickles and knifes??? A plaything ????!!!! So imagine giving the power to drive to the same pack of kids in the cycle. Readers would definitely agree with me wouldn't you, after reading this ?

    joe, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 12:28 January 19, 2010

    I think driving at 16 is not good at all as the teens are too young and full of energy. In fact if you can increase the driving age to 21and we will have better drivers on road. Best Regards & Safe driving.

    J D Silveira, RAK, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 12:25 January 19, 2010

    I think its crazy reducing the age limit to 16. With driving comes a sense of responsibility. 18 is a fair-enough age to start understanding responsibilities on the road.

    Anisa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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