Seatbelts to Become Mandatory for the United Arab Emirates

The National

March 23, 2017

Wearing a seatbelt while travelling in a car will be compulsory under new laws that have been hailed by road safety campaigners.

Drivers will be fined Dh400 and receive four black points on their licence for failing to ensure that all adults and children in their car are buckled up.

Dubai Police welcomed the move, having urged decision-makers to amend the laws, bringing them into line with many other developed nations.

Senior officers said there has been a trend among some parents to seat their children on their lap – but said this offered no protection in the event of an accident.

Until now, only those seated in the front of a vehicle have been required by law to buckle up.

"We have been calling for this decision in our meetings with the Federal Traffic Council," said Colonel Saif Muhair Al Mazrouei, director of the traffic department at Dubai Police.

"One person – one seatbelt. Every person travelling in a vehicle must wear a seatbelt or use a child safety seat.

"Drivers are responsible for ensuring that passengers are using the seatbelt or children travelling on board are using appropriate child car seat."

The law was approved by Lt Gen Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.

It will come into force three months from now.

Maj Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, chairman of the Federal Traffic Council and assistant commander-in-chief of Dubai police, said: "We were very keen on implementing this rule as we care for the safety of passengers."

He said other new measures are being considered, including targeting the narrow-style minibuses seen transporting service industry workers.

Maj Gen Zafeen said: "I believe that minibuses lack all kinds of safety measures. However, it is difficult to ban these vans from hitting roads.

"We are studying this issue."

Road safety campaigners have at times struggled to convince motorists to buckle up.

Phil Clarke, a road safety consultant at the Transport Research Laboratory in Abu Dhabi, said drivers’ attitudes to safety lag behind that of motorists elsewhere.

"Even though many people are aware of the risks involved of not wearing a seatbelt, many of them continue to disregard them," he said.

"This is because they either don’t have enough confidence in the use of seatbelts, or that they do not actually understand their importance."

Mr. Clarke said that during his career as a police officer, he witnessed many deaths that had resulted from drivers and passengers not wearing seatbelts.

"I support the newly-introduced law and I think that people should be made aware of the dangers of not wearing seatbelts.

"When an accident happens, the car stops but the passengers’ bodies continue to move forward at the same speed that the vehicle was moving.

"Therefore, the passenger will be hurled with a huge force. They might be thrown outside the vehicle.

"This is why many countries have legislation that have made seatbelt use mandatory while all passengers travelling in a car. A person not wearing a seatbelt is more likely to die if he/she is thrown out of the car."

He said in the event of an accident, rear-seat passengers will be thrown to the front or to the side, likely resulting in serious injury.

"Many people believe that a seatbelt shall delay their escape from the car in case of an accident, whereas it has been proven that such situations are very rare.

"There is a 40 to 60 percent chance of surviving a car crash if all passengers are buckled up.

"There is no excuse not to wear a seatbelt. All passengers in the vehicle must be buckled up.

As part of the same updated laws, the fine for transporting passengers without a permit from Dh200 to Dh3000, plus 24 black points, in effect a total ban. This is intended to prevent unlicensed drivers running minibuses and private taxi operations.

The new law allows 50 percent of car window tinting, up from 30 percent.

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