x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Make our roads safe for everyone

The nation - like The National - has been deeply shocked by the tragedy that took place on the road by the Carrefour supermarket in Abu Dhabi on Monday night.

The nation - like The National - has been deeply shocked by the tragedy that took place on the road by the Carrefour supermarket in Abu Dhabi on Monday night. That three young sisters should lose their lives in so horrific a manner has left a sense not just of deep sadness, but also of anger. This country has long been aware that its road casualty figures are far too high for a modern and otherwise caring nation. Its roads are among the best in the world and should also be among the safest.

That they are as dangerous as those of the most underdeveloped countries in Africa should be a matter of shame for all of us. Which is why The National is launching a campaign today aimed at everyone - the Government, the municipal authorities, the police, drivers, passengers and pedestrians - to make our roads safer. All of us are at risk on the roads; it is up to all of us to make them safer. Sometimes, alas, it requires a tragedy as terrible as that of Monday night to bring people to their senses.

As we say in our editorial comment today: "The changes required [on the roads of the UAE] are both cultural and practical. "First, there must be a realisation that this country belongs to its people, not to their cars. "Where there is a conflict of interest between the convenient flow of traffic and the natural instinct of pedestrians to take the shortest route between two points, the latter must always, without exception, take priority. Road design in the new communities springing up across the UAE must reflect that; and the older parts of our cities must be changed to reflect it too.

"Yes, there are drivers of many nationalities in the UAE and different driving cultures may contribute to the hazards. But this is one area where 'tolerance' is a dangerous excuse. "There are cultural differences but there is also the rule of law; there are different social norms, but there is also the universal sanctity of human life."