How to make the roads safer? Turn off those mobiles
Blackberry outage coincides with 40% reduction in accidents in Abu Dhabi
As cyclists we all know that mobile-phone-using drivers are a dangerous nuisance, and here's the proof. UAE newspaper The National reports that during the recent outage in the Blackberry network, which affected email, internet and messaging services for users of the popular smartphone, accidents fell by 20% in Dubai and 40% in Abu Dhabi.
The drop in accident rates was "definitely linked" to the outage in the Blackberry network, said Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, the chief of Dubai Police, and Brigadier General Hussein Al Harethi, director of the Abu Dhabi Police traffic department. General Tamim said that there was "a significant drop in accidents by young drivers and men on those three days". Young people are the biggest users of the messaging services on the Blackberry network.
"The accidents that occur from the use of these devices range between minor and moderate ones, but at times they are deadly", said Tamim. As in the UK, using a mobile phone while driving is illegal in the UAE, with those caught facing a fine of 200 Dirham (£34) and four black points on their licence, the same penalty as for driving at night without lights or undertaking. It's clearly not much of a deterrent, with over 36,000 fines already handed out this year. Using a mobile while driving in the UAE is in the spotlight after international footballer Theyab Awana was killed in a collision near Abu Dhabi. He was believed to be using mobile at the time.
If you're caught on the phone and driving in a way that poses a danger to others, though, you face a bigger fine and more points, plus you'll lose your car for 30 days too. Perhaps if the penalty in the UK was to have your car impounded for a month, we might make a dent in the public perception of mobile phone use while driving, which is currently on the increase according to a recent report by the RAC. In the 18-24 age bracket, almost half of motorists admit to using their mobile phone in the car. One in six use BlackBerry Messenger at the wheel, with a similar proportion confessing to using Twitter at the wheel, and 8 per cent even play games on their phones when they should be concentrating on the road. Texting at the wheel is also on the rise, up to 21 per cent from 14 per cent last year.
Thanks to road.cc reader Chris Whitehouse for the link