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A man buckling up a car seat belt.

Many UAE motorists are flouting the law and failing to buckle up, despite the obvious risks and the threat of fines and black points, daily newspaper The National reported on Thursday, citing a new survey.

The research found that 40% of drivers and even more passengers weren’t wearing a seatbelt when driving, despite the threat of a AED400 fine ($109) and four black points on their licence. But 80% of those questioned said they would adhere to the rules if the punishments were harsher.


In the UAE, motorists and front seat passengers are required by law to wear a seatbelt. But the survey found that just 61% of drivers and 43.4% of passengers were doing so, the report added. 

There is also a campaign for backseat passengers to also be compelled to buckle up. In many Western countries these rules already exist and are heavily enforced, with the driver often bearing the brunt of the fines. The philosophy being that the person in charge of the car is ultimately responsible for all those in the vehicle.

Yet, despite the relatively low rates of people appearing to abide by the rules in the UAE, Dr Salaheddin Bendak, the author of the recent study, and an associate professor at the department of industrial engineering at the University of Sharjah, said the figures were encouraging when compared to other countries in the region.

Seatbelt wearing rate in other Arab nations


Percentage of drivers

Percentage of front seat passengers



Not provided

Saudi Arabia 






Dr Bendak told The National: “However, more efforts are needed in this area to try to raise seat-belt wearing rates to more than 90% within a few years’ time for drivers and front-seat passengers.”

“Authorities are also encouraged to consider introducing a seat-belt law for rear-seat passengers.”

In the UAE, the figures for seatbelt wearing in the seven emirates placed Dubai and Abu Dhabi at the top and Umm Al Quwain at virtually half those rates.

Seatbelt wearing rate for the seven Emirates of the UAE


Percentage of drivers

Percentage of front seat passengers

Abu Dhabi












Ras Al Khaima






Um Al Quwain



All of the UAE

61% (of 5,600 drivers)

43.4% (of 2,640 front seat passengers)

According to the research, 99% of people said they were aware of the dangers associated to driving with an unrestrained child in the vehicle. However, the number of road deaths dropped significantly in 2011, even though 98% of children travelling in the Emirates were not properly buckled in.


Road safety campaigner, Lesley Cully, of Buckle Up in the Back, told UAE daily 7DAYS: “I’m amazed that such a high number of people are aware of the necessity to buckle up a child but still fail to do so. This is why the rear seatbelt law for all passengers is so vital as is continuous enforcement of the law.”

Research has proven that wearing a seatbelt in a vehicle – in both the front and back seats – significantly reduces the number of fatalities and serious or life changing injuries. People not wearing seatbelts in a vehicle involved in front-end crash will continue moving forward at the speed their vehicle is travelling, hitting whatever is in their path, whether that is a another person or windscreen.

“If we had a 100% wearing rate, it would be the largest contributor to the downward trend in injuries and fatalities in the UAE,” Craig Sherrin, chief executive of Emirates Driving Company told The National.

(Statistics in tables taken from the International Journal of Injury Control and Safety Promotion. Taylor & Francis Group.)

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