Dubai & Road Safety – An Opportunity for Change and World Leadership in Driver Safety Training.
Although I have never visited Dubai, I understand it can be a wonderful experience, however, the very nature of its expansion and development in such a relatively short space of time has also led to more and more road vehicles, perhaps driven by a new local generation and also an increase in a multi-national workforce mixed with visitors.
I am unaware of the current basic driving school training, assessment and testing requirements in Dubai but I suspect at best it may only conform with similar requirements to the EU which themselves could benefit from improvement.
While that may be similar, perhaps, with such a multi-national mix, large and fast cars, the varying Culture and Attitude of drivers may be totally different and therefore require a different approach to Licensing in the whole Region. ONE International Solution does NOT fit all Countries or Situations.
Dubai could become a World Leader in Road Safety by introducing a compulsory Course in Defensive Driver Training, (DDT) with assessment and Certification over and above and immediately after the Grant of a Permit to Drive and a necessary requirement for existing drivers (which at the moment in reality is only a Permit to operate a piece of mechanical machinery). A Regular reassessment following regular refresher training on Defensive Driving would also provide better assurance of the Region’s Duty of Care to its Citizens, incoming Workforce and Visitors.
By Commercial Drivers, here, I am referring to ANY Driver who works for a Commercial Company, Oil, Gas, Construction and Infrastructure Contractors etc. who may be driving ANY type of vehicle. Car, SUV, Pickup, Van, Mini Bus, Bus, LGV, HGV, or for that matter Plant Vehicles. The requirements of Driving Defensively Apply to ALL.
The Workforce for these Companies are in the main incoming Multi-Nationals with varied driving experience, perhaps minimal Driver Training, Assessment and or Qualification and in many cases having bogus licences from their Country of Origin. Due to the Language barriers, they may also have a total lack of understanding of the local Rules of the Road or Highway Codes for the Region and through the Culture and Attitudes of their Home Countries and the regards for Safety there, this contributes greatly to the current Accident rates, Fatalities and Injuries.
Often DDT and other Corporate Training is ignored as it does not show as an “Income Stream” on the Balance Sheet and so CFO’s and CEO’s bypass it in the “Chase for Profit” for the Shareholders – Perhaps if they were informed it was “TAX ALLOWABLE” as a legitimate business expense they could see the benefit.
As well as the On Road Defensive Driver Training, many of the incoming workforce are working with their vehicles in the field, on Piste Roads or Off-Road with 4wd Vehicles on Mixed Terrain. More often than not, the current breed of 4wd SUV’s and 4wd Pickups are used as personnel carriers with up to 5/7 passengers including the driver. The very modern designs of these vehicles and their comfort and sports-like looks often lead to higher speeds that can affect the Dynamics and Stability to the point of Roll-Over accidents which are common.
Therefore, it is essential that ALL Company HSE Transport Management departments incorporate Compulsory Quality 4wd On & Off-Road DDT for ALL their Drivers as part of their Duty of Care not only to the Workforce but also the Residents of Dubai in maintaining Safe Driving Habits.
Some in the Country may suggest that recently there have been improvements in Driver Road Safety however, History Worldwide points to Complacency leading to increases in future Years if NO realistic action is taken.
There will I am sure, be readers of this post who say: “Ah! But All the Modern vehicles have the New Safety Technology, the ones with all the Acronyms – Yes they have, however, many of these systems take away from the Driver to Drive Responsibly and so often with that false sense of security they drive faster, to the point of their lack of understanding of the basic Hazards and Rules of Road Safety stretch beyond even the capability of these systems.
Annually, World Wide there are 1.35 Million Killed and 30 to 50 Million Injured who support this observation. Do NOT let that misconception occur in Dubai.
I would respectfully propose that the Leadership in Dubai looks seriously into an early Land Transport Management Plan that introduces a Quality Defensive Driver Training Programme for ALL those Residents and its Regular Incoming Workforce Driving in the Country with the aim of reducing Accidents, Fatalities and Injuries to the minimum.
While this is possible, I very much doubt it will happen unless the Leadership takes the first step.
The “Ball is in Their Court – whether or not they are willing or capable of Picking it up and running with it to achieve the objective is another question.” Time and Future Statistics will tell.
Submitted by Paul Sinkinson – Free Lance 4wd On & Off-Road Defensive Driver Training Consultant/Trainer