Only 1 in 8 rear seat passengers in the United Arab Emirates wear seat belts, study shows
- An empirical study by researchers from the University of Sharjah and published by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health investigated the issue of rear seat passengers failing to wear seat belts in the United Arab Emirates
- An observational phase of the study revealed that the overall observed seat belt wearing rate on back seats was 12.3% with 10.1% recorded in Ajman, 14.7% in Dubai, 16.2% in Fujairah and 8.8% in Sharjah
- Estimated financial loss due to road traffic collisions constitutes 1.3% of GDP in UAE and the road traffic fatalities rate per 100,000 population is 10.9, compared to just 2.9 in the United Kingdom
- Study suggests need for greater enforcement of seat belt use in all motor vehicle rear seats in the country
A new study by researchers from the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates has examined the issue of rear seat passengers in motor vehicles throughout the country failing to wear seat belts.
The study, published in the latest edition of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) Policy and Practice in Health and Safety journal, involved direct roadside observations of rear seat passengers to estimate wearing rate, followed by data gathered from self-reporting questionnaires to explore the demographic characteristics affecting seat belt wearing on rear seats.
In the observational study, a total of 1,903 motor vehicles with rear seat passengers were observed in which there were 3,569 passengers sitting on back seats.
“estimated wearing rate of rear seat belts in UAE of 12.3% is significantly lower than many developed countries”
The overall observed seat belt wearing rate on back seats was 12.3%, with 10.1% recorded in Ajman, 14.7% in Dubai, 16.2% in Fujairah and 8.8% in Sharjah.
The estimated wearing rate of rear seat belts in UAE of 12.3% is significantly lower than many developed countries. Statistics from the Department for Transport released in 2009 showed that 89% of rear-seat passengers in England and Scotland used seat belts or child restraints.
This rate is also significantly lower than the seat belt wearing rate for drivers in UAE, estimated in previous research to be 61%, and for front seat passengers, estimated to be 43.4%.
As part of the research, a questionnaire was distributed to a random sample of 511 motor vehicle passengers across the whole country to assess awareness and practices of motor vehicle users on wearing seat belts on back seats and to see if they support laws that make it compulsory.
Overall, less than one sixth of respondents reported wearing their seat belts or asking rear seat passengers to wear their belts. This was reported despite close to two thirds of them reporting their belief in the importance of wearing rear seat belts and supporting greater enforcement of seat belt use in motor vehicle rear seats in the country.
The results also show that single, less educated rear seat passengers from Arab and South Asian backgrounds reportedly wear seat belts less.
The estimated financial loss due to road traffic collisions constitutes 1.3% of GDP in UAE, the second largest economy in the Arab world (after Saudi Arabia); equivalent to the state’s entire GDP growth in 2017. The road traffic fatalities rate per 100,000 population in UAE is 10.9, compared to just 2.9 in the United Kingdom.
Paper authors Dr Salaheddine Bendak and Ms Sara Alnaqbi of the University of Sharjah said: “Laws to enforce rear seat belt use should be accompanied with rigorous awareness campaigns that would help in raising public awareness of the importance of wearing rear seat belts and change the public behaviour in this regard.”
Matt Jackson, Chair of IOSH’s UAE Branch, said: “The research provides alarming statistics considering road related accidents are still one of the biggest contributors to deaths in the UAE.
“I agree with the researchers’ recommendations that more does need to be done to raise awareness of the importance of wearing seat belts for all passengers in a motor vehicle and the need for enforcement authorities to clamp down on offenders.
“The need for drivers of the vehicle to be held accountable is also key. They are the person in control of the vehicle and it’s their obligation to ensure all passengers are wearing seat belts before the vehicle moves, like a heavy goods driver being responsible for their load.”
The paper, ‘Rear seat belt use in the United Arab Emirates’, appeared in the journal Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, which is published by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
The paper is available here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14773996.2018.1560990