The United Arab Emirates has the eighth highest national accident rate in the world, with 37.1 killed in traffic deaths per 100,000 people per year, about five to ten times the rate of the developed world. (The Atlantic 2011)
Our motoring artery is the five-lane Sheikh Zayed Road (SZR). It’s the meeting and crashing point for drivers of all cultures. Driving rules (or lack of them) from all over the world converge on this highway. Demonstrating their immaturity and machioism seems to justify speeding and tail-gating among the Arab population, while a lack of any driving sense explains why Indians are involved in the majority of accidents on our roads (see article above). At the same time need I say more when I remind you that it is not unusual to see a seventeen year old behind the wheel of a Porsche or whatever car Daddy has bought or lent him.
Entering the foray of the SZR for the first time is one of the biggest fears for new comers to this city – and there are always new comers arriving who are understandably lost and hesitant, thus adding to the chaos.
Hence, it is not surprising that I was somewhat nervous this afternoon when I collected six very excited little girls from school to bring them home to celebrate Charlotte’s sixth birthday.
Travelling on this infamous road to get home, it goes without saying that I insisted that all six girls were safely buckled up and sitting in an appropriate booster or car seat (we actually own SEVEN car seats – enough for mine and JB’s cars). For many mums, particularly British mums, this may seem a waste of typing energy – of course they need to belt up, is it even worth mentioning. But you’d be surprised how many times I see toddlers jumping around in the back – and even more worryingly in the front – of cars out here, even hanging out windows and sun roofs! Of course the drivers stick to the rules and safely buckle up while bizarrely neglecting their precious children.
At a recent Good Housekeeping event I met the wonderful Lesley Cully, founder of Buckle Up in the Back campaign. She’s made it her mission to reverse this trend and educate Dubai’s driving population of the necessity to protect children in cars by safely strapping them in and using appropriate child car seats. Please take a look at her website at www.buckleupintheback.com and’ like her’ on Facebook. The more people who support Lesley, the more chance the RTA will change and enforce the law.
Meanwhile, I’m pleased to say that we all got home uneventfully – screaming, singing and eye-spying along the way.
Charlotte had a great birthday. Kids parties – now that’s another subject I need to blog about. Judging by the enjoyment of all the girls, there’s nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned (cheap) party of musical statues and bumps? (as long as the bumps are not on the SZR).
About this blog...
I set up this blog to reveal what real life is like here in the UAE - the good and the bad. I'll chat about what I've been up to, Dubai news and developments, my thoughts about expat life here (and in general) and reports about my holidays and adventures in the region (travel is my bag after all).