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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Drive your car as you would a company car, say road safety experts

Road safety event hears there is still a long way to go in getting message across

Road safety experts are trying to get people to follow the same practices when driving their own cars as they would with a company vehicle.

David J Greer, chief executive of Serco Middle East, told a road safety event organised by his company that it was a struggle.

The multi-industry business, which employs 4,500 people, has been at the forefront of the conversation about road safety in the UAE since its staff were involved in two major minibus accidents in 2015.

The incidents inspired the company to put road safety at the top of its agenda.

An event on Sunday at the Golden Tulip Al Jazira Hotel in Ghantoot focused on also getting the road safety message across to companies that have drivers out on the roads.

Mr Greer said it was important that road safety was not just something people are concerned about during working hours in a work vehicle.

“The attitude and behaviour of road users has to change,” Mr Greer said. “Travelling by road is still the most dangerous way to travel. Although not everyone gets it yet.”

He said it saddened him to see people complying with road safety in working hours but not applying the same practices outside those times.

“At the weekend, when they have the most important aspects of their lives in the car, their wives and families, they are throwing that to the wind,” he said. “It is dreadful to think that so many young lives are being ruined by tragedies on the road.”

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Laura Kelly, an assurance director with Serco Middle East, said the need for vigilance on road safety was constant.

“One of the trends we have noticed is around employees travelling in their personal vehicles,” she said.

“This year we have had a focus on behavioural safety and the choices we all make when driving, particularly when it comes to defensive driving techniques. How do we, on our daily commutes, keep ourselves protected from those individuals who do not value road safety?”

Seat-belt use is still a bone of contention in the UAE, she said. “In the minibus rollover accident from 2015, none of the employees were wearing seat belts. Mobile phones have also become a major distraction for drivers.”

Alan Morgan George, chief executive of hotel and transport company ADNH Compass Middle East, agreed that mobile phones were a problem. His company installed locked boxes in vehicles in which drivers must place their phones when driving, so they cannot be distracted.