x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Road tragedy in Oman

Safety on the roads can never be absolute, but we must all strive to drive defensively.

Friday's road accident in Oman that killed 10 people, eight of them Emiratis, is a cruel reminder that road safety can never be absolute. Details are still emerging about the crash, on the road linking Buraimi, near the border at Al Ain, to Sohar on the Gulf of Oman. Witnesses said a lorry swerved and lost its load, dumping heavy electrical equipment onto the roadway. Several vehicles then ploughed into the spilt gear or each other. The dead included five siblings, and at least 11 other people were injured.

The effect of this tragedy, particularly for the Nasser family, stirs compassion in every heart. But in such cases sympathy is often accompanied by a quest to assign blame. Coming as it does after an August crash in Oman that killed six Emirati children and their father, this accident will draw attention to road safety in Oman, a country whose natural beauty draws visitors from the UAE in large numbers.

To be sure, there are questions about how the lorry was being driven, and how its load had been secured. But World Health Organisation figures for 2007, the most recent available, say the UAE's road fatality rate is almost double that of Oman. The issue here is transnational: wherever you are, you must drive defensively - and hope others do the same.