Education and public campaigns key to reducing UAE road accidents
ABU DHABI // Better driver education, publicity campaigns highlighting the dangers of erratic lane changes and stricter police enforcement are essential to curb road accidents, experts said.
“Sudden deviation or swerving is the single highest cause of collisions in Abu Dhabi,” said Khaled Al Mansoori, vice chief executive of Emirates Driving Company (EDC). “Nearly 18 per cent of all collisions in Abu Dhabi are a result of this driver behaviour.”
Sudden swerving of vehicles resulted in 15 deaths and 19 severe injuries over three months in Abu Dhabi, traffic police said last week.
The fatalities and injuries occurred in 86 accidents from January 1 to March 17. Police also issued 1,653 fines over the same period.
Hitting another vehicle after swerving was the main cause of road accidents in the UAE. Students at Emirates Driving Institute (EDI) in Dubai are taught to judge when it is safe to change lanes, and are reminded that using an indicator does not give a driver the right to push into another vehicle’s lane.
“A vast majority of drivers in the UAE simply just cannot be bothered to use an indicator,” said Robert Hodges, chief operating officer at EDI. “This lack of awareness of one’s responsibilities as a driver to those around you using the same road is simply appalling.”
Drivers who make sudden lane changes without using indicators risk their lives through their own ignorance and carelessness, said Salaheddine Bendak, an associate professor at the University of Sharjah.
“To improve risk judgement among motor vehicle drivers, education and improving awareness should be a priority,” he said.
A change in driver attitude is essential through compulsory refresher courses for offenders, improving existing driving lessons for beginners and continuous awareness campaigns on television.
In Abu Dhabi, the EDC plans to introduce a new range of support courses, and target dangerous driving behaviour, Mr Al Mansoori said.
“However, road safety campaigns supported by local authorities are required and can also have a positive contribution to improving awareness.”
Students who take theory classes at EDC study the main reasons for collisions to understand driver behaviour.
“Drivers should always concentrate on maintaining control of their vehicles, and when they commence each journey the one important goal they should focus on is arriving safely at their destination,” said Dino Kalivas, a training director.
The EDI runs defensive driving courses and advanced driving courses each month for those who hold driving licences but wish to improve their skills and become safer drivers.
“We need stronger and more visible police enforcement in the road laws in the UAE,” Mr Hodges said. “The UAE has a brilliant police force and has adequate road laws but the majority of the drivers just bank on not ever being caught, and so simply just do as they want.”
Noor Ghulam, training manager at Belhasa Driving Centre in Dubai, agreed that traffic laws needed to be more rigidly enforced.
“The UAE has world-class road infrastructure,” he said. “While campaigns have increased the level of traffic-safety awareness, these should be more frequent.”
Police are stepping up patrols and monitoring roads by radar to clamp down on offenders in Abu Dhabi, said Col Hamad Al Blooshi, director of the external traffic and roads section at Abu Dhabi Police Traffic and Patrols Directorate.
Sudden lane changing carries a Dh200 fine and four black points on the licence. Drivers caught not using indicators when changing lanes or turning face a Dh200 fine and three black points.
“In our driving education, we all learn how it’s done correctly and it’s definitely not rocket science,” said Thomas Edelmann, founder of website Road Safety UAE.
“We need to remind ourselves of properly changing lanes, and that awareness must be high on this number one killer on our roads.”
Updated: March 31, 2014 04:00 AM