A two-year probation period for newly licensed drivers will teach them to obey rules and may cut future insurance premiums, experts say. “Better and safer drivers reduce the risk of accidents and over time this will be factored into motor insurance premiums, which are calculated on the basis of the risk of each driver,” said Frederik Bisbjerg, regional vice president of Qatar Insurance. “We already take the number of years a driver has driven in UAE with no accidents into consideration when calculating the insurance premium and safer driving behaviour is rewarded with lower premiums.”

Almost half of road accidents last year were caused by drivers between 18 and 30. The road toll for last year was 725 people, from 675 in 2015. From July 1, new drivers will be issued licences for two years. Expatriates will now have licences valid for five years, instead of 10. The new licence is significant because it means new drivers of all ages will have a two-year licence rather than a 10-year one in some cases. It will mean a history if bad driving or a medical condition is flagged up much sooner than at present.

“The five-year driving licence for expats is expected to promote better driving behaviour,” Mr Velayudhan said. “There will be no impact since insurers consider a year-wise claims history which penalises unsafe driving and rewards safe driving through discounts. “I have no doubt that the new driver licensing rules will benefit overall road safety in UAE.”

The Emirates Driving Company in Abu Dhabi and the Emirates Driving Institute in Dubai have yet to receive official word from the Ministry of Interior and the Roads and Transport Authority about the changes The new directive also states patients with certain ailments that affect their ability to drive may not be issued licences, after co-ordination with health authorities.

“It’s entirely sensible to place driving restrictions on those who have known medical conditions, which may affect their ability to drive safely, will become known and action can be taken,” said Phil Clarke, principal road safety consultant at the Transport Research Laboratory UAE.