x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Drivers at fault in accidents to pay Dh500

Private company contracted to handle minor road accidents is given powers to charge motorists it finds at fault.

ABU DHABI // The private company contracted to handle minor road accidents has been given the power to charge every motorist it finds at fault Dh500. From Oct 12, drivers will be expected to pay the money to Saaed, the firm employed by Abu Dhabi traffic police to clear up the tens of thousands of minor accidents in the emirate every year that do not result in injuries. The announcement was made by Major Hussein al Harthi, the head of the traffic engineering and road safety department at Abu Dhabi Police. He is also chairman of the board of Saaed. "This service fee is considered a penalty for a number of violations that led to the accident or [as] a result of the accident including causing congestion, hindering the flow of traffic, not paying attention, not maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles and for not obeying the rules of the road, for example," said Major Harthi.

"The fine will not result in additional charges to insurance companies but has to be paid by the individual found at fault in the collision." There were about 95,000 minor accidents in the emirate last year. If the system had been in place, the charges would have totalled an estimated Dh47.5 million (US$13m). Major Harthi said Dh500 was less than fees levied in other countries that have similar private contracts. He said that Saaed would have better response times and resolve minor accidents more efficiently than the police. "On average, Saaed arrives on the scene in less than 11 minutes from the time police dispatchers are notified of the accident," he said, "And they chart out the accident in an equally quick time." He added that Saaed officers were skilled in recognising and recreating how an accident occurred, "without a need for the vehicles involved to remain exactly in the place where the collision occurred". "Motorists who are involved in minor accidents should move their vehicles to the side of the road so as not to impede the flow of traffic." He said Saaed officers were professionals familiar with all aspects of traffic collisions, including investigating, reporting, repair cost estimates, insurance claims, recommending repair shops and arranging for a tow. He added that motorists could access a copy of the collision report on the company's website, as can their insurance companies. Saaed is 50 per cent owned by the Ministry of Interior, with a further 40 per cent owned by Khaskhasa for Security Services. The remaining portion is controlled by HeiTech Padu of Malaysia. Saaed currently responds to accidents on the roads outside Abu Dhabi island, in Al Rahba, Shahama, Bani Yas and Musaffah. Starting on Oct 12, its officers will begin responding to accidents in Al Ain. By the end of the year, they will be responding to accidents in Abu Dhabi island and parts of Al Gharbia. Saaed plans to increase its current fleet of 25 cars to 48 by 2009. With the introduction of Saaed, traffic police officers will have more time to concentrate on patrol duties and will only respond to major accidents where injuries are involved. Until Saaed's service began, motorists involved in minor accidents sometimes had to wait for more than an hour for police to arrive as priority was given to accidents in which people were hurt. ealghalib@thenational.ae