Dangerous driving in the region must end now

One of the good things that the Middle East is known for is its flashy cars whizzing at high speeds down six-lane motorways. GCC nationals are known for the Ramadan Rush they bring to the streets of London with their shiny, high-end cars that light up the streets brighter than Harrods’ Christmas display. Sadly, the news beyond the headline is the thousands of people who lose their lives due to tragic accidents. It’s about time we as drivers took responsibility for not sitting behind the wheel until we are ready to do so and for governments to ensure that the right legislation is in place to hold every single person who takes to the road responsible for their actions.

Dangerous behaviour accounts for 90 percent of driving accidents

There’s a very bold line defining the difference between a traffic accident and an incident. Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan in Dubai suggests 90 percent of road incidents are behavior-related. Basic mistakes include signalling when changing lanes to breaking early.

Saudi Arabia has the world’s highest death toll due to road accidents. At 17 people per day, that’s plenty for everyone to take action.

Even given the relatively low population of the region, the volume of deaths still tops the tables worldwide, especially in Oman and the UAE, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Governments are doing their best but ultimately we drive change

Governments can only do so much to ensure road safety. Qatar has a minimum number of hours that drivers must complete before qualifying for the test, as do many of its neighbouring countries.

Both the theory and practical tests are becoming gradually harder, and third-party insurance is becoming more and more common, with some countries making it a requirement by law.

Governments are driving change but it is us who sit behind the wheel.

However, what governments are yet to wrap their heads around is the need to introduce legislation that requires child constraints. Only a handful of countries in the region have introduced this legislation. Children riding in the front seats without seatbelts shouldn’t be a normal sight – ever.

Bring back manual cars

This seems simple enough, and many wonder why some people, including myself, choose to drive a manual car instead of an automatic. When I first learned to drive I did so on an automatic. Years later, I found myself in a situation where I had to drive a manual vehicle and so I began the learning process all over again. Yet the most valuable thing I learned wasn’t how to change gears depending on speed but rather that driving a manual car actually requires the driver to think, respond, and engage with the car. A manual car ultimately needs to be driven, whereas an automatic drives itself.

A manual car ultimately needs to be driven, whereas an automatic drives itself.

Yara al-Wazir


Too many lives are lost recklessly

Enough people die in the region for reasons that are arguably beyond our control: wars, illness, and genuine accidents. I have personally lost far too many people to road accidents. The world has lost too many people. It’s not about the money or how much it would cost to tweak and fix the car if anything happened; human life is priceless. It’s in our hands, and steering wheels, to keep in lane in the right direction. There’s no reason to grab our phones when driving, to not using indicators, or to speed. Reckless driving doesn’t just ruin cars, it kills and there’s no price tag for life.


Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43
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