The UAE witnessed the introduction of the holistic seat belt law in July 2017. How did seat belt usage change since the introduction of this ground-breaking law?
RoadSafetyUAE jointly with QIC Insured researched the UAE seat belt usage in February 2017, a few months before the new law got introduced. The results back then were broadly published by UAE’s leading media and gave RoadSafetyUAE and other stakeholders great substance to lobby for the introduction of the then missing holistic seat belt law.
“Now, more than a year after the new law got introduced, we wanted to take a look at how the seat belt usage levels developed”, states Thomas Edelmann, Founder and Managing Director of RoadSafetyUAE. He further comments, “International research shows, that seat belts safe lives between 40-80%, depending on the type of impact and the age of the user (kids/adults). In our opinion, the use of seat belts is the single biggest opportunity to reach the objectives of the ‘UAE Vision 2021’, namely to reduce the fatalities to 3.0 per 100 000 inhabitants (2017: 4.4). To illustrate the massive opportunity of seats belts: a 2017 study of Abu Dhabi Police shows, that 60% of traffic fatalities could have been avoided by the seat belt!”
It is important, that UAE’s motorists are aware of the new holistic seat belt law, and that everyone in a vehicle uses a seat belt and understands the protection seat belts offer. Surprisingly, ‘only’ 82% of respondents know about the new seat belt law and only 71% in the age group of 18-24. Even the meaning of the new law is unclear: only 70% know, that passengers on the back seat must wear seat belts! This value drops to 62% for the young age group (25-29 yrs.).
Comparing the seat belt usage trends ‘before’ (survey of Feb. 2017) and ‘after’ (survey of Sept. 2018) the introduction of the new seat belt law, we noticed overall improved trends:
|Drivers ‘always’ using the seat belt||69%||72%||+3%|
|Front-Seat passengers ‘always’ using the seat belt||71%||73%||+2%|
|Adult passengers in the backseat ‘always’ wearing the seat belt||11%||27%||+16%|
Also, the role of the ‘responsible driver’ is improving:
|Drivers ‘always’ asking passengers to wear seat belts||49%||56%||+7%|
|Do you have proper child seats/boosters?||66%||76%||+10%|
|Do you ‘always’ ask your children to actually use the child seats/boosters?||70%||75%||+5%|
However, it must be stated, that all these mentioned values must be at 100%, according to the new law! Some of the usage levels still are alarmingly low – for example on the back seats!
There is still a long way to go, both in further educating the use of seat belts as well as strictly enforcing the use! This is especially true for the segments of ‘young’ drivers and the segment of ‘Emirati’ drivers, as these 2 segments show below-average values, for example:
|Survey Results September 2018||Overall||Key Segments||Description of Key Segments|
|Drivers ‘always’ using the seat belt||72%||61%; 62%||Emirati; 18-24yrs|
|Front-Seat passengers ‘always’ using the seat belt||73%||54%; 64%||Emirati; 25-29yrs|
|Adult passengers in the backseat ‘always’ wearing the seat belt||27%||15%, 20%||Arab Expat; 18-24yrs|
|Drivers ‘always’ asking passengers to wear seat belts||56%||44%; 46%||Emirati; 18-24yrs|
Education efforts must aim at addressing the main reasons for non-usage. These reasons have not changed much in between the 2 survey dates:
|You mentioned that you don’t always wear your seat belt or ask your passengers to do so. Please tell us why?||Why don’t you have proper child seats or booster cushions for your children?|
|When I sit on the back seat, I feel safe enough without seat belt||51%|
|I don’t know which child seat or booster cushion to buy for my kid|
|On short trips, it is not needed to wear seat belts|
|My kids don’t like to be strapped in child seats or booster cushions|
|I am a safe driver and I will not be involved in an accident|
|Passengers holding kids is as safe as child seats or booster cushions|
|I am a safe driver and I will not be involved in an accident||19%|
The September 2018 study was commissioned by QIC Insured and RoadSafetyUAE and was conducted by YouGov in, based on the views of a representative sample of 1 016 UAE residents.
The February 2017 study was commissioned by QIC Insured and RoadSafetyUAE and was conducted by YouGov in, based on the views of a representative sample of 1 008 UAE residents.