x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Committee weighs plans to improve road safety

Proposals for making the nation's roads safer are expected next month, the director of the Ministry of Interior's traffic department said.

Across the Emirates, heavy traffic- zones like this one near Abu Dhabi Mall, are undergoing major changes to facilitate a smooth flow of traffic.
Across the Emirates, heavy traffic- zones like this one near Abu Dhabi Mall, are undergoing major changes to facilitate a smooth flow of traffic.

ABU DHABI // Proposals for making the nation's roads safer are expected next month, the director of the Ministry of Interior's traffic department said yesterday, days after a study said the UAE had some of the world's most dangerous traffic. The recommendations, which flow from 10 federal traffic studies, will include introducing traffic safety as a subject in schools, toughening standards for student drivers and creating new licence classifications.

The studies are part of a Ministry of Interior effort to reduce the number of deaths by 1.5 for every 100,000 people each year and reduce the number of road accidents and injuries by five per cent each year, said Col Gaith al Zaabi. "These studies will assess traffic safety in the UAE in order to find appropriate solutions," Col al Zaabi said. "Based on the recommendations, a time frame and budget will be set for implementing them."

Col al Zaabi took part in a two-day workshop this week organised by the National Transport Authority and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia. A regional target of a 30 per cent reduction in road traffic fatalities between 2008 and 2015 was recommended. The meeting helped prepare for the UN Ministerial Conference on Global Road Safety, to be held in November, Col al Zaabi said.

A World Health Organisation report released on Monday estimated that 37.1 people were killed on UAE roads for every 100,000 residents in 2007. However, Department of Transport sources in Abu Dhabi said comparing the number of deaths in 2007 - 1,056 - to the total population of 4.4 million the rate would be 24.1 per 100,000 population. The worst-performing country in the report, Eritrea, had a rate of 48.4 fatalities per 100,000 people.

According to the WHO, the rate was calculated using all fatalities linked to traffic accidents. Police only record deaths that occur at the scene, the UN body says. A federal traffic committee, which includes the National Transport Authority and is led by the Ministry of Interior's police research centre, is overseeing the studies. They are being conducted by different organisations, including UAE University in Al Ain, the Emirates Driving Institute in Dubai and a British company, Transport Research Laboratory.

Col al Zaabi said police were focused on limiting road congestion, traffic accidents, pedestrian accidents and increasing traffic safety awareness. hdajani@thenational.ae mchung@thenational.ae