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'Under-18s won't drive safely': Abu Dhabi driving licence age review has parents worried

Parents unsure about ability of those under 18 to abide by safety rules

  • By Nada Al Taher, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 20:30 March 25, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Courtesy Abu Dhabi police
  • Around 490 vehicles were impounded in February this year while 90 licences were withdrawn of drivers for violations.

Abu Dhabi: Recent talks about a possible decrease in the legal driving age in the emirate of Abu Dhabi have become a cause for much concern among parents in the capital.

The Policies and Strategies Council at the Ministry of Interior is discussing a draft law, which may lower the legal driving age, as reported by Gulf News earlier this month.

According to the Council, such a move will allow those under 18 years of age to perform household chores for their parents when needed.

Within the framework of the law, those below 18 would only be allowed to drive in the presence of a chaperone who is well over the legal driving age, and they would only be permitted to drive vehicles with speed limiters that prevent vehicles from being driven over a certain speed, besides serving to record and monitor driving speeds.

Parents have also expressed scepticism about how well the speed limiters will function in controlling the speeds of minors who obtain a licence. Sultan Al Mazroui, an Emirati government employee and father-of-two, shared his concerns with told Gulf News.

“If they cannot drive their own car, they will borrow a friend’s car or they will find a way to rent one. These rules are not a guarantee that they will drive safely. The police has already implemented many strict rules in an attempt to limit the number of accidents but those under 18 do not have the maturity or awareness to understand the severity of their actions and the consequences they have,” he said.

Umm Taher, a Yemeni mother, said she does not yet allow her 21-year-old daughter to go on long road trips. “My daughter recently got her licence and I feel she is not ready to protect herself against the mistakes of other drivers on the road. This is something that you acquire only with many years of driving experience,” she said.

“As soon as children get a licence, they begin asking their parents for a car and many mothers and fathers comply with this demand. So I do not think that passing this draft law will fulfil the primary purpose it is intended for, which is to help ease with household chores, because it will only give more room for demands and increase the number of vehicles on the road,” she told Gulf News.

Maggy Al Gawly echoed Umm Taher’s concerns, adding that traffic regulations must be made stricter to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities before allowing younger people to drive.

Road accidents are considered the sixth most common cause of death across the region, according to statistics released earlier by the Emirates Motor Company (EMC).

Additionally, those aged 15-25 are the one category most affected by traffic accidents, the statistics revealed.

“Teenagers with licences pose a huge difficulty for insurance companies. We are very hesitant in providing youngsters with insurance because of their reputation in driving recklessly and causing accidents,” Abdul Karim Jadallah, an insurance broker at a local insurance company said.

Comments (33)

  1. Added 17:57 March 26, 2013

    well, 16 is the right age to learn/train. 17 is the age to drive a car. you may think teenagers are dangerous...but you are absolutely wrong... Teenagers are more smarter and are faster in decision making process...As a person starts to grown older the brain starts shrinking its speed,efficiency,accuracy and capacity starts to decrease. This occurs at the age of 18. The teenagers may cause more accidents but the main cause is because of elders for example when they return from office they maybe tired and sleepy because of that their driving becomes rough because of their mistakes and faults teenagers become prey...thus it leads to an bad impression for the teenagers in the society.... I totally agree to reduce the driving age.....

    Hameed, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 16:06 March 26, 2013

    One must realise, a driving license is a privelege, not a right. In countries like Canada, where the driving age is 16, there are very strict rules, for example, they can't drive after a certain hour, can't drive with people under a certain age, and other rules. Another reality is, no matter which country one is from, teenagers think they are immortal and they can do what they want, when they want. However, add expensive cars to that equation, and it's just a recipe for disaster. Although its true some young drivers act responsibly, that's in all aspects of their lives, school, sports, etc, i do believe the majority of young people here feel entitled. One only needs to go for a walk on the Corniche any time of day to see how some of these guys act. And they want to put these same kids behind a wheel?

    Chris, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 16:01 March 26, 2013

    In UAE license is not given out easily they have good standards. Actually its not the age when one is on the road. As the lower age law is still not in effect but today most accidents are done by mature and experienced people who drive senseless and dont obey the law just for fun or racing or bad manners. Actually this has to be worked on. 18 years is a good age to drive people must be taught civil manners at home if not law of the land prevails. This is the way society grows.

    ANTHONY DASS, DUBAI, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 15:54 March 26, 2013

    On one hand we are being encouraged to use the Public Transport System. Salik toll gates are being put up on every possible road to tackle the traffic issue. Environmentalists are publishing articles on a daily basis to reduce our carbon footprint. Daily news reports on accidents caused by teenagers are flashing in every newspaper. Obesity in children caused by lack of exercise runs rampant in this country. Yet, someone is proposing providing driving licenses to kids under 18 so that they can run daily errands. Strange, isn’t it? The only thing we should be discussing is how to increase the legal age for driving so that we can systematically tackle all the problems that are mentioned above.

    rocky, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 15:25 March 26, 2013

    The idea is not bad, but does not fit to youngsters below 18 years old in our country. Since the maturity level for those boys or girls is suppose to be above 18. and also anyone below 18 years old is considered child, he or she is still irresponsible or his or her acts. I do not count such decision, and I hope authorities and mature people can speak their words. In Al Ain a lot of traffic accidents are caused by children below 18 years old and the percent is in rise if we allow other children to drive a car even with speed limit. I believe the place for those boys and girls is in schools, libraries, learning centers, homes, not behind driving wheels. I hope we are not preparing our next generation to be drivers since their mentality at this age does not permit them to think rationally like us matures. Thank you

    HMQ, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 14:57 March 26, 2013

    well the age must not be decreased but rather increased from 18 to 21 as upon my experience when i got my license i was just driving fast and recklessly on the roads and i ever didnt understand the consequences of it later. Now i that I have turned 20+ i feel that i was really wrong and that the age must be 21 to get a license in order to ensure drivers will be mature enough to react. mostly upon obtaining license at 18 young drivers drive very fast and capture pictures of the speedometer and post on social networking sites to let their friends know how well or how fast they can drive. this leads to many accidents so i hope authorities look at this matter. the age must be 21 and parnets must also be aware that their children do not take the car and drive away if they do not have license.

    ahmad, Al-ain, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 14:31 March 26, 2013

    16 year is the best age for the driving license, In Foreign countries One can have the D License in the age of 16, So why should we behind them in this,

    UMAR GHORI, UMM AL QUWAIN, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 13:49 March 26, 2013

    I Feel 17 is the right Age to issue a licence, for the parents who still have their kids immature i honestly would like to tell them ,if you still think that your child isnt mature and you dont want your child to get license dont give your child NOC.That will Prevent him from taking one.Only because you dont want your child to get a license doesn't mean others do not need a license, there are no. of works which parents cannot do and are hoping their children to start. I Readily Agree For the decision for reducing the age limit for issuing an license.

    Shaikh Mohammed Izzuddin, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 13:34 March 26, 2013

    The age for license can be made 16 or 17 but not less. I Don't Understand how an 18-year-old will be so mature at driving ? It all matters how the child takes things seriously, so in my opinion, parents should take care of it . If they think their child is eligible for it, let them!

    Sameeh Ponnery, Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 12:56 March 26, 2013

    A 17 year old can be responsible enough to have a licence. There are a few of dependable youngsters among the others, the only challenge is to distinguish between the teenagers. A blood test alone could tell so much of a person. they could find out if he has been using narcotics or been smoking and these are the people that should be not allowed to have a licence , Since they have a tendency of breaking rules. why must the others suffer because of them? a few tests WILL TELL

    Parsa, sharjah, United Arab Emirates

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