x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Emirati road deaths fall at twice the overall rate

The total number of injuries dropped by 15 per cent from 9,187 in 2010 to 7,808 in 2011, and the accident total fell from 7,642 in 2010 to 6,700 in 2011.

The death toll of Emiratis on the roads is falling at more than twice the rate of such fatalities in the overall population.

The number of deaths on the roads fell from 826 in 2010 to 720 last year, a drop of of 12.8 per cent. However, the drop among Emiratis was 28.8 per cent, according to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Interior. The driving culture among young Emirati men changed significantly in 2011, drivers said yesterday, particularly after the death in September of the international footballer Theyab Awana, who drove into a lorry while using his BlackBerry.

"People tell each other to stop texting while driving. You say to your friends, 'Tell me what you want to write and I'll write it for you'," said Abdulla Al Shehhi, 25, a civil engineering student.

"Especially in the past month there has been a huge change in my friends, everybody started wearing seatbelts, even myself, which never happened in the past."

Views on speeding also changed because of more enforcement and the introduction of fines, he said.

Attitudes to seat belts have altered but texting on mobiles is still common, said Fahad Al Qubaisi, 28, an Emirati from Abu Dhabi.

"Most of the guys I know now they are putting the seat belt on but for the mobile phone I don't think the people are following this. I don't know if it's possible to change this. They are texting 24 hours."

Young drivers have become more considerate of other road users.

"Before we don't use signals," said Mr Al Qubaisi. "Now people are keeping distance. Before we used to stick bumper to bumper."

Mr Al Qubaisi attributes his own change to maturity and too many close encounters.

"I could kill someone on the street. I should respect the road I'm on. Other drivers have families.

"I was driving so fast. Now I stick to the limits. If you are driving 160 or 120 it only makes five minutes difference."

This is a lesson he tries to teach his younger brothers, aged 24 and 22. "My younger brother, he's driving so carelessly. Maybe he will not accept it but I try to bring it in a good way that he's precious to us and I think that he will take these words if you talk him."

The leading cause of fatal accidents last year was found to be misjudgments by motorists, which caused 83 deaths. The second and third major causes were abrupt lane changes and entering a street before making sure it was clear, which accounted for 43 and 34 deaths respectively. Blown-out tyres caused 93 accidents and 31 deaths.

Of the 7,808 injuries last year, 866 were sustained in accidents caused by tailgating. Entering a lane with no regard for oncoming traffic resulted in 638 injuires, while blown-out tyres caused 243. Almost 4,000 injuries were categorised as being caused by "other reasons". Motorists jumping red lights caused 416 accidents and 12 deaths.

Cars veering off the road and rolling over accounted for a small percentage of the total number of accidents in 2011. There were 93 such accidents in 2011 compared to 124 in 2010.

The number of accidents involving cars hitting pedestrians dropped by 8.6 per cent, from 1,453 in 2010 to 1,328 in 2011. Speeding resulted in 122 accidents but no figures were provided on the number of deaths or injuries.

The total number of injuries dropped by 15 per cent from 9,187 in 2010 to 7,808 in 2011, and the accident total fell from 7,642 in 2010 to 6,700 in 2011.

The overall fatality rate fell from 10 to 8.49 deaths per 100,000 in 2011.

Brig Gen Gaith Hassan Al Zaabi, director general of traffic coordination at the interior ministry, said the reductions were the result of the ministry's strategy to improve road safety.

This included high-profile traffic awareness campaigns promoting road and vehicle safety and stricter enforcement of speed limits, application of the Traffic Points System and impounding of vehicles.

rruiz@thenational.ae

azacharias@thenational.ae