x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

UAE residents will be able to relay real-time traffic updates and receive audio and visual alerts before approaching an accident spot with a new mobile application called RoadAid.

ABU DHABI // UAE residents will be able to receive real-time traffic updates and audio and visual alerts before approaching an accident spot with a new mobile application.

The RoadAid app, a free download for Android, Apple and Windows platforms, was released in the UAE on February 7.

The Danish app was launched in 2012 and is available in many countries in Europe, the Middle East and in North and South America.

“We’ve decided to give Android users a head start with the option to sign up in the UAE,” said Babak Bijan, RoadAid co-founder.

“This does not mean that other platforms will be left behind. iOS and Windows phone users can use the ‘skip’ button on the log-in screen which gives them the same access to live data from fellow drivers.”

Before they start their journey, drivers can receive early, continuous and relevant traffic reports. Commuters can also use the app to update traffic conditions while on the road.

The RoadAid system then distributes the information to anyone in the community near an incident, allowing them to avoid it.

The aim is to reduce wasted time by relaying real-time traffic information, avoid further congestion or a “bumper-to-bumper” situation, he said.

“We’ve been considering the UAE for quite some time after extensive analysis work, examining the smartphone penetration rate and the technological leap it has in large parts of the world,” Mr Bijan said.

“We concluded that the UAE is more than ready to accept and appreciate RoadAid, and we believe this is the perfect time to enter the market with 4G/LTE growing at a staggering rate in the UAE.”

In the UAE, smartphone penetration exceeds 80 per cent – one of the highest rates in the world – and 4G mobile broadband speeds are now widely available.

“The UAE has a lot of road-safety initiatives,” he said. “In the future, we hope to work jointly with the UAE to make the roads safer.”

For example, RoadAid can collaborate with the Department of Transport and Roads and Transport Authority in the form of data exchange.

Co-operation with authorities will be aimed at reducing traffic accidents and death tolls.

“There are a number of ways to achieve this using RoadAid,” Mr Bijan said. “One simple way would be to make people slow down on dangerous roads by warning them about known traffic enforcement points.”

Road-safety experts in the UAE welcomed the app.

“Radio stations in the UAE provide updates on peak-time traffic, and the app could be an addition to provide timely information,” said Thomas Edelmann, founder of the website Road Safety UAE.

“Traffic jams often contribute a lot to bad behaviour on roads because drivers can get nervous about running late and as a consequence, we often see wrong and dangerous behaviour which affects road safety negatively.”

However, he cautioned drivers about the use of mobile phones in cars which could lead to distraction, resulting in road accidents.

“The proper use of the phone carrying this app is important,” Mr Edelmann said.

“We want drivers to stay focused on the road,” Mr Bijan said. “Others would usually pull over to the side of the road and report an incident. You can also do it when stopping at the traffic light, or when you’re pumping gas at the station.”

rruiz@thenational.ae