x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Taking the sting out of car crashes

Pointless bureaucracy following minor car accidents should be eradicated.

Fender benders. They are an all-too-common part of life on the congested streets of the capital. Some are serious, many are minor, but none are hassle free.

From the mandatory 999 call for the slightest ding, to hours of time lost in queues with police, insurance companies and mechanics, dealing with the aftermath of a minor crash can be more traumatic than living through it. It's no wonder, then, that some drivers conclude a dent-free door is not worth the trouble.

Help may be on the way. As The National reported yesterday, an online scheme could lower the stress of navigating post-accident paperwork. Spearheaded by Saaed, the private company that responds to traffic accidents in Abu Dhabi, a planned web portal should allow motorists to process and track accident claims at the click of a button.

The need for such a system is clear and Saaed, along with the government ministries involved, should be applauded for their efforts to ease drivers' frustrations.

But why stop with a web portal? There are plenty of other areas where changes are needed to improve the experience of driving in the emirate, and make the roads safer in the process.

First, there needs to be clear directions for drivers who have had an accident. Saaed bears some responsibility. While police and government websites offer advice, Saaed - especially its English portal - is in need of an overhaul. Not only is there no listed phone number for drivers to call, the company's webpage that is supposed to be dedicated to advice if an accident happens is blank.

Car insurance companies are also failing to live up to their responsibilities. Fatima al Awadhi, the deputy director general of the UAE Insurance Authority, said in March that "insurance companies need to speed up payment, and pay it fully without delay". Regulators can help ensure that they do.

Finally, we believe it's time to reconsider whether a police report is necessary for each and every case. Major accidents involving more than one driver should, of course, continue to be investigated. But when a driver returns to a parked car that, by no fault of his own, has been banged or scratched by a careless motorist, why involve the authorities? Let the insurance companies sort it out.