181224 modified car
Modifying cars is against the law. This year, 12 people died in 28 accidents that involved modified cars, compared to 11 deaths in 45 accidents last year, Dubai Police said. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Police officials on Sunday blamed parents for giving youngsters money to modify cars, while launching a campaign against such vehicles.

Officials said 3,007 vehicles seized in Dubai this year were modified by increasing the sound of exhaust pipes or their engines tinkered with for more speed.

The campaign will run until end of March 2019 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi under the slogan ‘Don’t lose your son by modifying his car’, aiming to educate young drivers on the dangers of souped up cars.

“Parents are helping their sons by paying money to them to modify the cars in garages. Some modification charges reach between Dh100,000 to Dh200,00 and teenagers get this kind of money from their parents,” Brigadier Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, Director of Traffic Department at Dubai Police, said in a press conference.

Around 3,007 modified cars were seized this year until December, compared to 3,208 cars in 2017. “12 people died in 28 accidents that involved speeding and reckless driving using modified cars, compared to 11 deaths in 45 accidents last year. “Parents should watch their children and not allow them to use their cars,” Brig Al Mazroui stressed.

The three-month campaign will include visits to schools and universities and workshops for students. Text messages will be sent to motorists and the campaign will also run on social media platforms.

“Members of the public should help the police and call 901 if they notice any incidents involving modified vehicles,” Brig Al Mazroui said.

Around 3,765 people called Dubai Police complaining of modified cars this year, compared to 1,939 complaints last year.

Meanwhile, Prosecutor Salah Bu Farousha Al Falasi, head of the Dubai Traffic Prosecution, said modifying a vehicle could land the owner in trouble. “Modifying cars can cause death or injuries. We have witnessed major accidents because of modified cars. It’s deadly and dangerous on our roads. The owner can be fined and prosecuted in case of an accident or damage of property,” Al Falasi said.

“If a car’s maximum speed was originally 180 kmph and modified to 300 kmph, the response time of the driver will be almost zero. Any modification should be approved by the concerned authority. There is always legal responsibility on the driver and his family, as cases go to civil court for compensations,” he added.

Officers urged concerned authorities like the Dubai Municipality and Department of Economic Development to conduct more inspections of auto workshops who modified the cars without permission.

Deadly accident

Last year, three teenagers under the age of 18 were killed in an accident on Al Khawaneej Road.

The modified Land Cruiser they were in was going at a high speed suddenly swerved, hit a road barrier and crashed into a lamppost.

“One of the four passengers died on the spot and a second died after one month, then the third died after two months, while the fourth passenger is still suffering from major injuries,” Brigadier Yousuf Al Adidi, Director of Al Ghusais Police Station said.

He said that despite people knowing the danger posed by modified cars, parents still don’t care. “Recently, we seized a modified vehicle for two months as normal procedure, but the father came to me and pleaded for the car to be released, for his son. Parents don’t know how much danger they’re putting children in,” he added.

Law and penalties

According to the UAE Federal Traffic Law, motorists who modify their cars or engine can be fined Dh1,000, and may be slapped with 12 traffic black points. Police can confiscate the vehicle for 30 days for the offence.

Driving a vehicle causing loud noise can incur a fine of Dh2,000 and 12 black points.

Motorists driving vehicles recklessly and possibly endangering the lives of other road users can be fined Dh2,000 and 23 black points. Police can confiscate the vehicle for 60 days of the offence.