Safe distance rule violation major cause of accidents in UAE


By Dina Aboul Hosn

Speed on the road does kill, but only when accompanied by other factors, Dubai’s top traffic authority said on Tuesday.

Dubai taxi“If you drive on an empty airport runway, speed on its own is not a killer, but on the road there are other cars as well as pedestrians and sometimes animals,” said Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, head of the Dubai Police Traffic Department.

Speaking at University of Jazeera at the launch of a road safety campaign titled ‘Leave a Safe Distance’, Maj Gen Al Zafein advised road users to drive on the middle or right lanes and avoid the fast lane to be on the safe side. Over 100 students from the university will take part in the campaign, which aims to spread awareness of road users on the importance of safe distance. “Awareness is very important, but the other important point is enforcing the law,” Maj Gen Al Zafein said.


“When people apply for a driving licence and do the test, they act very polite and drive carefully, which means they are aware of the laws, but later decide to ignore them,” he said, adding that awareness and law enforcement go hand in hand in curbing reckless driving.

The campaign will include lectures, distribution on pamphlets, stands in malls, and advertisements in all media. Failing to leave a safe distance between vehicles was the main cause of accidents in 2010 with 448 collisions in which 16 people died. While in 2009, failure to leave a safe distance caused 587 accidents in which nine people died.

Maj Gen Al Zafein said the offence goes unpunished unless failure to leave safe distance causes an accident, in which case the driver is slapped a Dh400 fine and four black points.

The safe distance is not fixed and depends on the vehicle speed. It can be calculated using the three seconds rule, which stipulates the car in front of you should have passed by a roadside point of reference — such as a lamp post — three seconds before your car does so. Roughly speaking, a length of six to seven cars is sufficient at 100km/h.

When stopped at a slope or a traffic light, a distance of about half of one car’s length should be left, and when driving in gridlock condition, there is no need to leave more than one metre. “Most importantly, it is a distance at which you feel safe,” Maj Gen Al Zafein said.

Allowance to be cut

The 20km/h allowance over the speed limit on Dubai roads will be considerably cut down, Maj Gen Al Zafein, head of the Dubai Police Traffic Department, has said.

“I believe that the 20km/h allowance is not right, because on a 60km/h road, this is an allowance of 33per cent, while on a 100km/h road, it is 20 per cent,” he said, adding the allowance could be 7-10km/h.