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Another needless tragedy on the E-11

The tragic car pileup in Abu Dhabi yesterday shows that despite road safety campaigns, police patrols, and public awareness, a reckless driving culture still persists in the Emirates.

As fog settled on the E-11 motorway yesterday morning, drivers continued to thunder along at a pace that consistently endangers lives.

The tragic, almost predictable pile-up that resulted left one dead, and more than 60 wounded. Perhaps the only saving grace was that the accident occurred in the early morning, when fewer cars are on the road, allowing drivers more space to manoeuvre out of harm's way.

The accident is just another example why the World Health Organisation has included the UAE in its list of 10 countries with the most dangerous traffic conditions.

Road safety campaigns - which this newspaper have advocated for more than two years - increased police patrols and heightened public awareness have still failed to curb this kind of reckless driving. Undoubtedly, the E-11 could be improved to discourage speeding, perhaps with the installation of more flashing speed cameras, but at heart drivers have to be held responsible for their irresponsible behaviour.

Yesterday's events were a reminder of the massive E-11 accident in 2008, when more than 350 people were injured after 60 cars crashed into each other during foggy weather.

Now as then, fog is not the problem. It is the consistent disregard, whether from arrogance or ignorance, for the safety of other people on the roads. Witnesses reported yesterday that despite an inability to see further than a few metres, some cars were still speeding in excess of the 120kph limit, and some were tailgating. This is inexcusable.

These repeated incidents of carnage on the roads are personal tragedies - and a national shame. From the very beginning, driver training needs to instil the principles of defensive driving. Driving is, after all, a privilege, not a right. Most importantly, individual drivers have to take responsibility for their behaviour on the roads. If they refuse to, they must be held to account.

The Abu Dhabi-Dubai motorway is one of the nation's main arteries. It should not take another accident of this proportion to act as a wake-up call for commuters. Whether it takes more police, more speed cameras or stricter laws, drivers who disregard the safety of others should be taken off the road.

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