(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) A survey conducted by 999 magazine of the Abu Dhabi Police reveals 90 per cent or nine out of ten residents consider drink driving as a road safety concern and nearly 50 per cent of the respondents considering it as a "widespread problem" in the country.
This traffic offence continues to happen despite the fact that the UAE Federal Traffic Law prohibits drink driving or driving under the influence of alcohol. The UAE is one of the few countries across the world that have a zero tolerance approach to drink driving, including Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Brazil.
"Drink driving is a serious offence. It not only endangers the life of the motorist concerned, but could also potentially harm the health and safety of other road users. The numerous campaigns being undertaken by the police are working, and residents are aware of the tough penalties for drink driving," Lt-Colonel Awadh Saleh Al Kindi, Editor-in-Chief of 999, said.
What's encouraging is that a vast majority of UAE residents approve the zero-tolerance policy on drink driving.
The survey, which polled 1,850 UAE residents, both locals as well as expats, on their attitude towards drink driving found that a whopping 96 per cent were against allowing drivers on the road even if they were only "slightly intoxicated".
"A survey conducted by 999, however, reveals that despite a vast majority of residents supporting the government's zero-tolerance stance on drink driving, an alarming number of people still continue to indulge in this deplorable act, as evidenced by the statistics of respondents knowing of someone who indulged in drink driving in the previous 12 months," he added.
The survey also underscores the fact that despite a majority of respondents believing that penalties for violation of the drink driving code are strict enough, a sizeable minority (26 per cent) believe that penalties are not severe, suggesting that they would like to see stricter sentences handed out to offending drivers.
The traffic law stipulates that any individual who consumes alcohol and drives or attempts to drive a vehicle faces between one month and three years in jail and/or a fine ranging from Dh20,000 to Dh30,000. "On a positive note, we are pleased to know that most residents support the UAE's stance on this issue. This month's cover story presents case studies and guidelines on the menace of drink driving and we hope that by pro-actively helping each other in raising awareness on this issue, we can successfully put a stop to this and effectively make the UAE an even safer place to live," said Lt-Col Al Kindi.
The offender also faces 24 black points on his or her driving licence, confiscation of the vehicle for two months, confiscation of the driving licence for three months, and possible deportation. Offenders are obligated to take a road safety course before being allowed back on the road.
However, in a shocking revelation, an astounding 31 per cent of the respondents claim to know of someone who indulged in drink driving in the previous 12 months, highlighting the fact that despite the authorities' widespread campaigns and strict penalties imposed on offenders, drink driving remains a widespread problem in the UAE.
What also remains a major concern is the proportion of respondents who were found complacent regarding this regulation. In the survey, less than a third (32 per cent) of UAE residents said they believed there was a high risk of getting caught for this offence.
The survey is published in the June issue of English 999 magazine, a part of the Strategic Plan of the Ministry of the Interior to provide media coverage for the activities and efforts of the ministry and Abu Dhabi Police. It also aims to encourage the public to contribute to reducing crimes in the UAE.