BMW Group Middle East is demonstrating its ongoing commitment to supporting the UAE authorities in the battle against the complacent and potentially fatal attitude of young UAE drivers towards wearing seatbelts. A nationwide study undertaken by more than 3,000 male and female 18-23 year old university students to understand their attitudes towards road safety has revealed alarming findings that show young drivers are in desperate need of further education.
The survey reflects a worrying practice in the UAE where many drivers or passengers do not use seatbelts. Just one third of the respondents surveyed said they always wore a seatbelt and despite 44% of students having been in a car accident, a staggering 72% of them still say they ‘only sometimes’ – or even never – buckle up.
With such worrying attitudes towards their own safety, BMW Group is focusing its 2013 ‘Stay Alert. Stay Alive.’ road safety campaign on young student drivers, taking a digital approach to illustrate the harsh reality of unsafe driving, in particular not wearing seatbelts. Endorsed by Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and working with the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) – the largest higher educational institution in the UAE – an innovative, bespoke online course has been developed to highlight the benefits of safe motoring and the consequences of reckless driving to more than 18,000 Emirati students across the country.
The importance of the issue means that HCT universities will launch the e-course as part of its curriculum this academic year, for a period of 12 months. The 30-minute course will comprise seven modules, ranging from risks in everyday driving to safety features and ways in which to drive safely. HCT students across 17 university campuses will be encouraged to complete the interactive course as part of their general studies.
“Without a doubt, one of the most effective ways to help improve road safety is to try instil good driving behaviour from an early driving age. Our research findings show that students are putting themselves at danger by not wearing a seatbelt and we must do whatever possible to try protect them,” said Leanne Blanckenberg, Corporate Communications Manager, BMW Group Middle East. “In theory, there is an immediate solution to help with this problem through the online course we have developed, but in practice it is a long and difficult journey to persuade young people that this simple step can save their lives. We have to remember that we’re not just changing driving habits we’re trying to change attitudes which is a long-term responsibility,” Blanckenberg added.
With a shocking 85% of surveyed students believing that seatbelts are just as likely to harm them as to help, UAE students are daring to buck the practice that has saved the lives of many of their international counterparts. A World Health Organization report published earlier this year estimated that wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of fatalities among front-seat passengers by up to 50% and of rear-seat passengers by up to 75%. Despite widespread publicity surrounding the global World Health Organization report that road traffic injuries were the leading cause of deaths of people aged between 10 and 24 years old, UAE students do not appear to be taking the potential risks seriously. Three quarters of the UAE students surveyed who said they did not always wear seatbelts explained it was because they simply forgot or felt uncomfortable. Worryingly, more than half (54%) of those surveyed believed it was not necessary to wear a seatbelt unless they were the driver. Equally as alarming, three out of four student drivers surveyed said they do not ensure their passengers are buckled up before setting off on their journeys.
“The safety and wellbeing of our students is a paramount issue for us at the Higher Colleges of Technology. That is why we have included BMW Group Middle East’s ‘Stay Alert. Stay Alive’ road safety campaign into the curriculum for all of our Foundation Programme students across our 17 colleges by way of this interactive, e-learning course. This online course will inform and educate HCT students about the need for safe driving attitudes, as well as the dangers of reckless driving,” said Dr. Kamali, Vice Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology.
“The students will be engaged to learn new skills and gain greater knowledge by this innovative course which will be an integral to HCT’s philosophy of Learning by Doing,” he added. “We believe that by completing the course, HCT students will gain a better understanding of the importance of wearing a seatbelt whilst driving, or as a passenger. This campaign is a vital step in the right direction – by educating a new generation of drivers we can help to introduce safer skills and bring greater awareness of road dangers,” he concluded.
While the ‘Stay Alert. Stay Alive.’ campaign has included all aspects of road safety, it is the seatbelt crisis which the BMW Group feels is one of the most crucial in helping to prevent deaths on the UAE’s roads. The pioneering road safety e-learning platform hopes to see some major breakthroughs.
The BMW Group ‘Stay Alert. Stay Alive.’ campaign was launched in the UAE in 2010 with a focus on educating the public about the importance of using appropriate safety restraints while travelling by car, particularly those for children. The campaign was a resounding success with more than 3,000 child safety booster seats distributed to parents throughout public awareness events and strategic partnerships, with further roll-out across the wider GCC. Phase Two comprised road safety awareness days at various HCT colleges to tangibly display to university students the devastating effects of not practicing safe driving. In addition, further child booster seats were distributed to the general public visiting BMW Group showrooms to continue the message of road safety to parents and their children, taking the total up to 4,500 since the campaign launch. To date, ‘Stay Alert. Stay Alive.’ has garnered widespread acclaim and recognition, winning numerous awards and accolades.
Wednesday, December 4- 2013 @ 9:46 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.