An road accident in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: It is not uncommon to see UAE residents with their ears glued to their mobile phones, be it at the supermarket, the post office and even at the cinema.

But when it comes to road safety, how many motorists flout the traffic rules and use their mobile phones while driving? And how often do they text?

A recent YouGov survey has revealed how often UAE motorists use their mobile phones, and which emirate has the highest rate of offenders.   

Thomas Edelmann, Founder and Managing Director of RoadSafetyUAE said: “It is alarming to see that only 26 per cent of motorists ‘never’ use their mobile while driving. Distracted driving is among the top causes of accidents, injuries and death on UAE’s roads and the use of mobile phones behind the wheel is one of the major sources of distraction.”

RoadSafetyUAE and QIC Insured on Wednesday released the findings of their most recent YouGov research wave, which showed that 25-29 year olds were the most vulnerable in using mobile phones while driving.

The majority of offenders who broke the traffic rules were found to be residents of Sharjah, followed by Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Western expats have the best driving habits, according to the survey, as they almost never used their devices while on the road.  

The survey also found that 74 per cent of drivers use their phones for incoming calls, 43 per cent for outgoing calls, 19 per cent for incoming messages such as WhatsApp, and 14 per cent of motorists used it for outgoing messages.

Edelmann further said: “To improve the situation, the UAE needs ongoing education efforts, the creation and promotion of safe driving mobile phone applications (including an auto mute function) and a strict enforcement of the current rules and regulations with regards to the ban of mobile phones while driving.”

Research further discovered that older drivers were most likely to respond to incoming calls, while younger drivers lead in outgoing calls and messages.

Frederik Bisbjerg, Executive Vice President for Middle East and North Africa (Mena) Retail, QIC Insured, said: “For UAE’s motorists we have a very clear message: When driving, put your mobile phone in silent and put it away. No call or message can be so important to handicap your own safety, the safety of your passengers and the safety of other traffic participants around you.”

Hand-free devices and driving

60 per cent of respondents use their hands-free for more than half of their time on the road.

35 per cent use the car’s built-in hands-free, 31 per cent cable hands-free and 23 per cent use portable Bluetooth devices.

Of those drivers whose cars have built-in hands-free, 75 per cent said they actually use it.

The use of hands-free is more popular with drivers above 35 years old.

The fieldwork for the study was caried out in August 2016, with a representative sample of 1,033 residents living in all seven emirates of the UAE.

-Source: YouGov