Thursday, July 8, 2010
What message does this send?
Road safety campaigners have spoken out after two dangerous Dubai drivers, whose reckless antics were seen around the world on YouTube, were given a fine of just dhs1,000.
The two Emirati men, revealed yesterday to be a 25-year-old police sergeant and a 20-year-old government employee, were caught on camera driving down Sheikh Zayed Road on two wheels and performing handbrake turns in the middle of the carriageway.
At Dubai Misdemeanors Court yesterday, they were both cleared of endangering the lives of other motorists and the public, but were found guilty of reckless driving. They were each fined dhs1,000.
The verdict has shocked those battling to improve the roads in the UAE considered to be among the most dangerous in the world. More than 220 people died on our roads in 2009.
Shanz Zenith, who runs a road safety organisation, said he was stunned: “It’s appalling, a really bad example for drivers.”
Zenith added that The Suraya Foundation, named after his sister who was killed in a car crash, believes community service should be meted out to dangerous drivers. “They should be made to spend time shadowing paramedics so they can see first-hand the damage they can do,” he said.
Safety campaigner and driving expert Adam Kechil agreed, saying “drastic action” was needed to curb the blatant disregard for road rules here and cars should be impounded or even crushed.
Reckless drivers were ‘just enjoying themselves’
“You have to take something away from people if you want to change their behaviour,” Kechil said. “This case sends out completely the wrong message.”
But, the men’s lawyer, Saeed Al Gelani, defended the sentence, saying his clients had been part of a procession overseen by the police.
“My clients were just enjoying themselves,” he said. “They are experts at such stunts.” He also said that his clients have been punished twice for their acts.
“The police fined them and seized their vehicles... then after three weeks the police called them in again and made this new case,” he said. “They have paid the penalty twice.”
The drivers had been part of a procession of fans celebrating Al Wasl Football Club’s win in the Gulf Club Champions Cup in May.
Neither prosecutors nor Dubai Police would comment on the verdict, although Dubai Public Prosecution did say it will appeal.
A police spokesman said the force made all its points when the men were arrested in May.
At the time General Khamis Mattar Al Muzaina, the deputy director of Dubai Police, condemned their driving as “reckless and wild”. He also said the officers supervising the procession had not been aware of the stunts.
Earlier this year, Dubai Police unveiled an ambitious plan to cut the death toll on the emirate’s roads to zero by 2020.