Traffic studies have proved that wearing seat belts reduces fatalities in car accidents by 45 per cent in small vehicles and 60 per cent in light trucks. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Paying customers are not always right – especially when it comes to road safety.

An app-based car service has now started to refuse taking passengers if they do not buckle up and wear their seat belts, regardless if they sit in the front or the back-seat of the taxi.  

“Careem has empowered its [drivers] to refuse passengers who choose not to buckle-up. In short, if you don’t buckle-up, we will choose not to provide an unsafe trip. Though this might sound drastic, we hope our passengers will value their safety as much as we do and hope that our community will welcome this bold move”, said Christian Eid, General Manager of Careem UAE.

Established in 2012, the car service operates across 27 cities in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, including Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.

The taxi firm Careem has also asked customers to formally pledge to fastening their seat belts and in return, will reward pledgers with a 25 per cent discount on their next five rides.

Commenting on the initiative, Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafety UAE, said: “Based on a dip-stick survey we conducted last month with 259 respondents, 98 per cent of passengers in chauffer driven cabs said they buckled up in the front seat while only 56.7 per cent always wore their seat belts while sitting in the back seat. That is a very alarming number.”

According to the World Health Organization, car accidents are the second biggest contributor to fatalities in the UAE. The UAE witnessed 10.9 road deaths per 100,000 population. Among the Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia topped the list at 27.4. The death rates for other GCC countries were: Oman at 25.4, Kuwait at 18.7, Qatar at 15.2 and Bahrain at 8.0.

“Strategically, chauffeur cabs and taxis present a huge opportunity for road safety in the UAE, since their 'role-model' behavior can set the example for other motorists to follow… like using indicators, road etiquette and politeness, and not speeding,” he said.

Tips when travelling with children

If you have  a small child who travels usually in a child seat:

Make sure you call a chauffeur cab / taxi offering child seats.

In case your small child travels frequently in cabs, consider purchasing a combined child seat and baby stroller.

If you have  a child who travels usually on a booster cushion:

Make sure you call a chauffeur cab / taxi offering booster cushions.

Alternatively, take your own booster cushion along, they are light-weight and can be stored in a back pack.

Source: RoadSafety UAE