There have been 2,618 traffic accidents on UAE roads so far this year, or almost 525 per month, according to new statistics.
338 people killed on UAE roads this year
ABU DHABI// The number of road accidents is falling. In the five months since January 1 there have been 2,618 accidents nationwide, an average of nearly 525 per month.
The figure shows a steady decline since 2009 when there were 5,032 accidents in the first six months, an average of about 840 per month, and in 2010 when there were 3,581 accidents in the first half of the year, an average of about 600 per month.
The latest figures were released yesterday by the Ministry of Interior.
The drop of nearly 38 per cent in monthly traffic accidents since 2009 has been attributed to rigorous traffic awareness campaigns and stricter law enforcement by traffic police.
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Initiatives include traffic authorities conducting a three-month education campaign targeting schools, universities and organisations.
During the 28th annual GCC traffic conference last week ministry officials agreed to run a campaign every three months under a different theme.
Of the total number of accidents so far this year, there were 338 deaths and 3,326 injuries.
The leading cause of fatal accidents is abrupt lane changes, said Brig Gen Ghaith al Zaabi, the director general of traffic co-ordination at the Ministry of Interior (MoI). Sudden lane change has caused 30 deaths and 291 minor to serious injuries in 177 accidents.
The second and third major causes were disrespect to other road users and tailgating, which accounted for 28 and 21 deaths.
The current fatality rate is 10 per 100,000, with long-term goals by the MoI to reduce that to 1.5 per 100,000.
Dr Abdulilah Zineddin, a highway and road safety expert in Abu Dhabi, explained that to accurately evaluate road safety improvement one must also look at the nature of the accidents.
"You must also look at the fatalities and serious injuries caused by these accidents," Dr Zineddin said. "You may have fewer, but more severe accidents."
However, Dr Zineddin said, the country is making a move in the right direction.
"A number of road safety initiatives, mainly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have led to this," he said. "This includes a comprehensive road safety strategy that includes engineering solutions, road safety audits and traffic calming techniques."
Speeding was the fourth-leading cause of traffic accidents so far this year, accounting for 20 deaths and 67 injuries. Speed management by traffic authorities, whether by reducing speed limits or increasing law enforcement, also plays an important role in curbing the number of traffic accidents, Dr Zineddin said.
One of the more recently introduced methods of catching speeding offenders in Abu Dhabi, he said, includes mounting a radar gun to the front side of a police vehicles.
"The increasing number of 'sniper' radar guns have made a significant impact," Dr Zineddin said.
Recent drops in the enforced speed limit from 160kph to 140kph on major connecting roads between the emirates, such as the Abu Dhabi-Dubai road, have also had an impact on the decrease in traffic accidents, officials said.
Salem al Zaabi, assistant under-secretary for land and marine affairs with the UAE National Transport Authority, said reducing speed limits has a positive impact "without a doubt".
"A driver has much more control over a car when driving at 140kph than when driving at 160kph," he said. "Some cars cannot even handle such speeds, yet drivers insist on driving fast.
"However the improvement in the number of accidents is the result of collective efforts by traffic authorities, such as increasing night visibility by installing more lights on the roads, providing alternate routes and dedicating specific times for heavy vehicles to operate on busy roads."