The minimum age for a driving license might be reduced in the UAE.
This was discussed in a meeting of the Federal Traffic Council this week, where the age reduction was among one of the proposals the traffic rules in the country.
The minimum age to acquire a driving license for a motorcycle is 17.
“Everybody knows that riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a car, so it is common-sense to reduce the minimum age for driving to 17,” argued Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafeen, Director of the Dubai Police Traffic Department and Head of the Council.
“A person who is able to ride a motorcycle would also be able to learn how to drive a car, but vice-versa this is not the case,” he added.
Currently, the minimum age to start the process of gaining a driving licence is 17, while the licence can only be obtained from the age of 18.
In many countries in the world the minimum age to obtain a driving license is 17, or even 16.
“What we see in the UAE is that youngsters opt for the motorcycle because they are not able to gain their driving license for a car.
“There are many fatalities involving motorcycles, such as speeding, or losing control. If these road users are able to drive a car at this age these fatalities may not happen, because driving a car is much safer,” said Al Zafeen.
Reduce and monitor
“Reducing the minimum age is not new,” commented Ahmed Hashim Bahrozyan, CEO of the Licensing Agency at The Road and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai.
“In many countries around the world the minimum age is lower than 18, but in many countries this is paired with certain restrictions.
“I am not necessarily against the reduction of the minimum age, but I believe that imposing certain restrictions should be considered in the UAE.”
Restricting young drivers from driving alone, driving on highways, or driving after midnight within the first couple of months of having their driving license are some of the restrictions imposed in other countries.
“Obtaining a driving licence does not mean that a person is an experienced driver, as this requires experience on the road.
“Therefore, I would vow for certain jurisdiction that enables the monitoring of young new drivers, until they are more experienced,” Bahrozyan said.
Statistics are supporting the initiative to reduce the minimum age for obtaining a driving licence.
The number of accidents among notice drivers has reduced, and more people are passing their driving exams than before, he pointed out.
“Some people might consider this a negative sign, as they think it is due to leniency from our side. But this is not the case.
“It is a result of better training, better communication between trainer and student and more independency for the novice driver. The student is better prepared for the road than before.
“When a decision like the reduction of the minimum age is considered, we must always look at the possible impact on the number of accidents on the road,” he concluded.
“The number of accidents in the UAE has gone down, but we want to maintain this. I would prefer to accept the new measure, but with the necessary restrictions in place.”
[IMAGE VIA SHUTTERSTOCK]