x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Thousands of road deaths could be averted

A new study concludes that the number of road crashes in Dubai alone could be reduced by more than 2,400 a year.

It is a relentless toll. Five more, including three children, died on Sharjah's roads at the weekend. "Not a single week goes by without hearing police vehicles and ambulances coming to collect a pedestrian accident victim," said Humaid al Mansouri, the general manager of the Ansar Mall, after the recent deaths.

Such needless tragedy can be avoided, according to a comprehensive analysis of road deaths. A new paper by Mostafa al Dah from Dubai, a doctoral student at the UK's Loughborough University, concluded that the number of crashes in Dubai alone could be reduced by more than 2,400 annually, as The National reports today. Savings of an estimated Dh280 million could be made by introducing crash barriers, building foot bridges or including more speed cameras, proven to reduce accidents involving pedestrians by 82 per cent.

Mr al Dah studied tens of thousands of crash records from 1995 to 2006, matching possible solutions against their causes. "I was given the data on the idea that I would come up with a set of recommendations," he said. "I hope that these will be implemented more widely."

His work and similar efforts are not mere studies that should be relegated to the dusty annals of academia. The paper might have been written about Dubai, but it is equally relevant for the other emirates. As the weekend's deaths in Sharjah indicate, evidence-based recommendations could have a direct bearing on how many in the UAE make it through the day.

The National's road safety campaign has continued to highlight solutions to the nation's biggest cause of fatalities. That Sharjah is on board is to its credit. "The general behaviour on roads has to change to one that is safe and obedient to traffic rules," said Col Mohammed Eid al Madhloom, the head of the Sharjah police operations department in response to the weekend's fatalities.

A recent Abu Dhabi report showed that the capital was hit by one accident every five minutes, for a cumulative monetary cost of Dh5.8 billion. The much more tragic toll is the human one. Mr al Dah's study shows there are basic, common-sense solutions that should be implemented. There is no good reason why they have not been implemented already.