Buckle up or get out of my car Private taxi firm empowers drivers to refuse passengers who won’t wear seatbelt
The operators of a luxury taxi service in the UAE have told their drivers to refuse to take passengers if they fail to buckle up.
Careem UAE said the measure is necessary to safeguard its passengers and ensure the safety of its drivers, who could be seriously injured by an unbuckled passenger on the back seat in an accident.
The use of a seatbelt for back seat passengers is not compulsory in the UAE - but strongly recommended by road safety campaigners and the World Health Organisation.
Careem’s move has been backed by campaign group RoadSafetyUAE. It hopes a potential refusal by drivers themselves will set an example. The initiative follows a survey by Careem and RoadSafetyUAE of people who use chauffeur-driven vehicles that found only 57 per cent of passengers buckle up, a figure described as “alarming”. Christian Eid, General Manager at Careem UAE, said: “Careem has empowered its captains to refuse passengers who choose not to buckle up. In short, if you don’t buckle up, we will choose not to provide an unsafe trip.
“Though this might sound drastic, we hope our passengers will value their safety as much as we do and hope that our community will welcome this.”
Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE, said that drivers and taxi companies could lead the way in bringing about a change of cultural on the roads.
He said: “The failure to wear a seatbelt in the back is not only dangerous for the passenger - they could fly forward and kill the person in the front seat in the event of an accident.
“We want drivers to be empowered. By asking passengers to belt up we hope to bring about a change in culture.”
Edelmann added: “People are waking up to the issue of road safety and we are now getting a lot of momentum.” Careem drivers in Dubai told 7DAYS that before the drive was launched, they were already in the habit of asking passengers to buckle up. However, some said, with no law on their side, that they felt it hard to compel the passengers who pay their wages. Asif Sabir, 36, from Pakistan, said: “As soon as the passengers get in we request them to put on their seatbelts, even if they are in the back. “We also do a lot of school pick-up and drop-offs which means a lot of kids on the back seat. We make sure all of them have their seatbelts on. “We do often have passengers who do not wear their seatbelts until we tell them but most of them do not hesitate to. If they refuse, we ask them again and if they are still stubborn we don’t ask thrice.” Dawood Saheb, 32-year-old, said it is difficult to force customers. He said: “Until the government makes it compulsory, we cannot force people to wear seatbelts at the back, but we can give them knowledge about why to do so.”