Car accidents in the emirate cost Dh8.5billion, or almost Dh50,000 per crash, with two-thirds occurring in the city alone.
Almost 320 car crashes a day in Abu Dhabi
ABU DHABI // A car accident in the capital every five minutes last year cost Dh5.8billion, which amounts to almost Dh50,000 per crash, according to Department of Transport (DoT) statistics.
Although the number of deaths on the emirate's roads has increased dramatically from 2005 - up by 144 per cent to 1,704 - only two per cent of accidents in 2009 involved injuries or fatalities.
That number accounted for an estimated 66 per cent, or Dh3.8bn, of the total cost, according to information provided at a regional forum. The other Dh2bn came from crashes that involved damage to property.
The Dh5.8bn total cost was determined by measuring market costs - vehicle repair, medical treatment and productivity loss - and less tangible non-market costs like grief, pain and suffering and reduced quality of life.
It was the first time the DoT has released such figures and Dr Arif Mehmood, a safety planning specialist at the DoT, said the municipality decided to calculate the economic costs of traffic accidents within the emirate to help plan road safety projects. "We don't know how much resources we lose every year with these road crashes in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
"Once we know this number, that will help us understand it and justify the needs for road safety projects," said Dr Mehmood, at the International Road Federation's Middle East Regional Conference.
The DoT, working in co-operation with the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi, traffic police and the Statistics Centre of Abu Dhabi, consulted car companies and healthcare and insurance industry experts to complete the analysis.
The statistics revealed that most of the emirate's car crashes in 2009 occurred on internal roads which accounted for 61 per cent of all crashes and cost an estimated Dh3.5bn, compared with the Dh2.3bn for accidents on Abu Dhabi highways.
About 66 per cent of the accidents took place in the city, at a cost of Dh3.8bn.
Another Dh1.4bn, or 24 per cent, occurred in Al Ain, and only Dh600 million, 10 per cent, happened in Al Gharbia.
There were 116,487 accidents in the emirate last year, an increase of 149 per cent since 2005, according to a study released by the Department of Economic Development earlier this year.
The numbers break down to nearly 320 crashes a day, or one every four and a half minutes. The study determined that more than 80 per cent of the accidents were caused by human error.
There were 454 traffic accident deaths in Abu Dhabi last year meaning that crashes on the emirate’s roads are the second-leading cause of death, behind cardiovascular disease.
The statistics show fatal accidents cost the most at Dh3.2bn last year, or 55 per cent of the total. Accidents with injuries amount to 10 per cent, at Dh600m.
Other studies have tried to put together a measurable number. Research released by UAE University in April put the total at Dh21bn for the entire country, while a different study from the Department of Economic Development estimated the country-wide cost at Dh16.61bn.
Dr Mehmood said the maximum amount of money paid for wrongful death should be increased from Dh200,000, based on the numbers from his study. “We need to revise this,” he said. “This base amount is quite low as compared with the cost to the municipality.”
The study recommended allowing a judge to determine the amount of blood money each victim should receive based on a rubric the DoT would create for each kind of accident, ranging from minor injury to fatality.