Lessons for beginner-drivers in Dubai will be for a minimum of one hour per class from January 1. Presently, a class lasts 30 or 40 minutes. The total minimum learning hours will remain at 20, but the Roads and Transport Authority feels that one-hour classes will structure the course better.
While this step must be welcomed, because it aims to make drivers better and more responsible on the roads, much more needs to be done to ensure safety on the highways. This year has seen an alarming increase in fatalities from traffic accidents in Dubai. In the first half of 2016, 112 people were killed in Dubai compared to 77 in the same period last year. This is a 45 per cent increase in fatalities. Police said the main causes for accidents were sudden swerving, speeding, tailgating and being inconsiderate towards other motorists.
It is known that driving lessons are intensive in the UAE and only competent drivers pass the test. And yet, we see a high number of accidents and fatalities in the country. Drivers put utmost effort and take good care to pass the test. But once the licence is in hand, the violations begin, with scant respect for their own lives or those on the roads.
There has been a call for more police patrols on the roads and the need to crack down strictly on offenders. This needs to be done urgently. But offenders are pathological. They behave when they see patrols and resort to dangerous driving when the police are not there. The only lesson they will learn is when their licence is seized for repeated offences and revoked when the pattern of violations reveals they have not changed their dangerous habits that threaten lives.
Strict action is the need of the hour.