Rising incidents of texting and driving spur calls for increased awareness campaigns
Dubai: Incidents of UAE motorists texting while driving continue to rise at an alarming rate despite a host of awareness campaigns highlighting the dangers of such behaviour.
A road-safety survey revealed in November last year that 74 per cent of drivers use their phones while driving.
Many Dubai residents are concerned about the rising trend of texting and driving.
One expatriate told Gulf News that he believes checking a phone for less than a second causes accidents.
Hamed, a public relations manager from Qatar, said he used to text and drive, but stopped seven years ago after realising the dangers.
“I used to be one of them. It became like a culture,” he said. “Seeing the results of accidents caused by texting and driving on Twitter made me quit.”
Alex (left), 22, an expatriate from Trinidad and Tobago, told Gulf News that he is shocked by the continuing behaviour.
“I have many friends who have texted and driven and gotten into accidents and I always tell them how dangerous it is to text and drive. And of course, they don’t listen,” Alex said.
“When I’m crossing the road on a zebra crossing, very often people don’t stop,” he said. “They were probably texting and driving.”
Another Dubai resident, Lama, 30, observed that people text and drive because of a need to stay connected.
“They just want to be in contact all the time. There’s no patience anymore,” she said. “You have to know what’s going on right on the spot, or otherwise you might miss something.”
Lama told Gulf News that when she asks her friends why they text and drive, they always give the same answer: ‘I know it’s bad but I have to do it’.
A road-safety report last year revealed that 51 per cent in the 22-29 age group admitted to texting while driving.
Gem (left), a 21-year-old Filipino expatriate, admitted to texting while driving due to the demands of his profession as a property marketer.
“I’m trying to break the habit, but in my line of work you have to be on your phone all the time. It’s a conflict between me wanting to stop texting and driving, and also my work demanding that I do it,” he said.
Gem described an incident when his friends were driving home from a night out, and the driver of the vehicle was texting.
“Suddenly, he hit the curb and the car flipped over,” he said. “Thankfully, none of them died, but they were bruised.”
Authorities are urging motorists to put down their phones in the new campaign, ‘Your life is more important’.
According to a report published last month, 35,092 traffic fines related to mobile usage were issued across the UAE in 2016.
Motorists caught using a hand-held mobile while driving receive a Dh200 fine.
Dubai resident, Bernadette (left), believes that fines help the issue but education against texting and driving is more important.
“A campaign in other languages for expatriates, will make more people aware that it’s not only them on the street, there’s also other people — mothers, families, children,” she said. “It’s your responsibility as a driver, as a human, to take care of other people, not just yourself.”