We all know that there is fair share of road rage going around in the UAE. Among the dozens of varieties of it, one of the most common and hard to miss is tailgating. Tailgating is what happens when you drive way too close to the vehicle in front of you, which is ill-advised for many obvious reasons. And as it so happens, it seems like the authorities have had enough as police have now introduced radars that can nab those pesky tailgaters.
The initiative was actually taken by the Sharjah Police in order to raise awareness in motorists. It has warned drivers that tailgating will not only result in an instant fine of AED 400 but also attract four black points. Many who tailgate are either oblivious to the danger of doing so, or they think the risk factor is relatively low. However, statistics don’t lie. As per some statistics that were shared by the Abu Dhabi Police, 13% of all traffic accidents in the first quarter of 2018 happened on account of drivers failing to maintain a safe distance between vehicles.
That might not sound like a big enough number, but then again, most offenders don’t believe that tailgating is a serious offence either. However, the truth of the matter is that between 2017 and 2018 alone, the approximate number of lives lost as a direct result of tailgating is well north of 60 individuals. In fact, during a survey that was conducted in 2017, Dubai Police reportedly charged over 77, 000 motorists for tailgating. Authorities also found out the reasons motorists gave when asked about their tailgating behaviour; as expected, it boiled down to factors such as them being late, slow drivers ahead, or even not being aware of traffic rules and regulations. When questioned, a vast chunk of motorists claimed they don’t participate in any form of tailgating.
According to some experts, drivers should maintain at least 56 metres between vehicles when travelling at 100 km/h. This calculation takes into account several factors such as the time to register and respond to visual stimuli, braking performance of an average car, closure rate between vehicles, and driver distractions etc. However, most tailgating incidents happen at way, way less distances than 56 metres. It isn’t difficult to spot vehicles driving almost bumper-to-bumper at high speeds on highways, and even on some urban roads.
After witnessing several tailgating incidents myself, I can assure you that no good comes out of following someone that closely. There have been several cases where drivers panicked when they spotted a car gunning for them at high speed, but couldn’t move out of the way in time. Sometimes, the errant driver is able to slow just enough to avoid a collision, though that’s not always the case. Since every car is different and traffic patterns don’t always remain the same, one can never truly predict the outcome of tailgating.
As an example, heavier vehicles such as SUVs and pick-up trucks require more time to shed speed because of the inertia that’s involved. On the contrary, smaller vehicles such as hatchbacks and high-performance sports cars can usually slow down far quicker. However, these are all relative terms and at the end of the day, reaction times of drivers also play a crucial role.
In conclusion, tailgating isn’t safe and has led to several completely avoidable accidents. So, the implementation of these specialised radars/cameras by the Sharjah Police is a welcome safety net. Those who are frequent tailgaters in the UAE now have yet another reason to discontinue their reckless and dangerous habit.