DUBAI Three tragic accidents that snuffed out 10 young lives in a span of just one week serve as a grim reminder that motorists can ill-afford to take driving lightly on UAE roads. XPRESS dissects last week’s shocking crashes with the help of road safety expert Thomas Edelmann from RoadSafetyUAE.com (RSU) to find out what caused them, whether they could have been prevented and what lessons can be learned from them – albeit at the heavy price paid.
Ferrari crash, Jumeirah Lake Towers, March 6 FACT: Four youth from North America, including Canadian boxer Cody Nixon, 24, were killed when their Ferrari 458 Spider hit a pavement and rammed into a lamp post on Al Sarayat Road. The accident occurred at 12.30am on the fateful Sunday, hours after Nixon had ironically posed with the luxury car on Instagram, declaring that he had just landed in Dubai, picked up the Ferrari (on rent) and adding for good measure: “Don’t worry, I won’t speed.”
CAUSE: Reckless driving with no seat belts and under the influence, speeding.
As Edelmann sees it, “The young age of the drivers who could rent a super car and their driving under the influence is a big ‘no-no’, not only in the UAE, but also in their home countries (US and Canada); peer pressure is a big problem with the youth – four people in a two-seat car and speeding recklessly with no seat belts - all of this is a recipe for disaster.”
According to him, young drivers are at high risk when it comes to road safety. “Around 63 per cent of all traffic accidents during a nine-month period in 2015 were caused by individuals ages 18-35, with the same age group accounting for around 34 per cent of all deaths in road accidents.”
TAKEAWAY: Do not drive under the influence or travel in a car being driven by one. Take a taxi or call a professional driver. Don’t overdrink in any case – it can land you in some form of trouble.
Adhere to rules, wear seat belts (all passengers at all times), observe speed limits, avoid banned substances, don’t get distracted by passengers, mobile phones or loud music.
Student tragedy, Sharjah, March 11
FACT: Three Indian students from Dubai - Shifam Mustafa, 20, Ashmid Ashraf, 20 and Mohammad Sunoon, 21 – returning from a short holiday to Fujairah died on the spot when they entered the Al Dhaid - Al Madam Road in Sharjah from an unauthorised area and collided with another vehicle.
CAUSE: Violation of rules.
According to Edelmann, “The vehicle is said to have taken a U-turn at an unauthorised area and was hit by another speeding car, also driven by a young driver (25 years). This is another deadly cocktail of young and inexperienced drivers feeling invincible. Again, like the first case, much must be done to educate the youth who are responsible for the biggest number of accidents on UAE roads. We must obey the rules, in this case no turn at unauthorised parts of the street and no speeding. Did peer pressure play a role? Were they wearing seat belts? We don’t know, but these could also have been contributing factors.”
TAKEAWAY: Don’t take chances, always follow the rules. Don’t get carried away or distracted.
As parents, ask your children to take the safe driving pledge and make sure they follow it, drive with them till they get enough experience, engage with them about their driving skills and trips and keep sharing safety tips and tricks.
Sibling shocker, Sharjah, March 11
FACT: Three Egyptian children ages 14, 13 and six, were killed and their mother, 37, and two brothers seriously injured when a speeding truck rammed into their family car at Al Weshah interchange in Al Dhaid. Police said the truck jumped the red light and hit the car, dragging it down to the concrete divider on the road.
CAUSE: Speeding, reckless driving, possible fatigue.
Edelmann said the accident raises many questions: “Why did the truck driver crash? Was it only because of speeding and reckless driving? Was he tired, did fatigue play a role? Was the driver healthy? Also, police reported that none of the victims wore a seat belt.”
TAKEAWAY: There is no excuse not to wear the seat belt – always and everyone in the car. Seat belts reduce fatalities by 45-60 per cent, Also, it is advisable not to drive with only young passengers until you feel fully confident.
YOUSPEAK: How can young drivers be made more responsible?