x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE urged to take part in global memorial for victims of road accidents

Road safety and transport experts have recommended the UAE commemorate the World Day of Remembrance for Traffic Victims, held on the third Sunday of November every year.

ABU DHABI // The victims of road accidents worldwide will be publicly mourned tomorrow as governments work to reduce the number of crashes.

The World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims takes place on the third Sunday of November each year.

Road safety and transport experts have suggested the UAE, which aims to have no road deaths by 2020, commemorate this special day.

“It would provide an opportunity for the UAE road and police authorities to reflect on the work they’ve done to reduce crashes and fatalities, but also the work that is remaining,” said Glenn Havinoviski, a transport expert in Abu Dhabi who attended the International Road Federation Meeting in Riyadh this month.

“It also helps to remind the public about road safety, and having a day to commemorate victims should remind drivers about their own responsibilities.”

Roshanara Sait, of Ciel Marketing and Events, which organised a campaign promoting safe driving habits among UAE university students in March, agreed.

“This day should be observed by all,” she said “Regrettably, almost everyone knows someone who has lost a loved one in a traffic accident. Though this day may be painful for some, it will surely act as a reminder to all drivers that lives are precious.”

The road-safety message for the UAE should be “respect road rules, courtesy and caution saves lives”, Ms Sait said.

“It is a special day to remember those who died or were injured from road-related crashes,” said Dr Abdulilah Zineddin, a road safety specialist in Abu Dhabi.

“It is also a day to show support for the loved ones who must cope with the consequences of their deaths or injuries.”

This month, Medhi Karasane, an Etihad cabin crew member and triathlete, suffered serious head and other injuries when he was hit by a car while cycling.

Two months ago, triathlete Roy Nasr, 49, died after he was hit by a drink-driver as he cycled with friends near Safa Park in Dubai.

The driver was later jailed for a month.

In February, a lorry hit a bus of workers, killing 21 men and injuring 24. The bus was travelling on the E30, Old Truck Road, next to Al Rawda Palace on the outskirts of Al Ain.

And in 2011, one of the country’s finest footballers, Theyab Awana, was killed when he crashed into a parked lorry while driving and texting.

“Commemorating the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims will send a strong message to the world that the UAE is serious about saving lives that result from roadway crashes,” Dr Zineddin said.

The day is an opportunity to remind all road users of the risk that exists, said Dr Salaheddin Bendak, a road safety specialist and associate professor of industrial engineering at the University of Sharjah.

“Unfortunately, this risk is particularly high in the UAE,” he said.

He attributed it to the “carelessness and ignorance” of some road users, a lack of governing laws and regulations, and a lack of enforcement for seat belts and child seat restraints.

“Improving safety on roads is every road user’s responsibility,” Dr Bendak said. “When everyone feels responsible and following safety rules becomes part of their culture, everyone will win.”

The result would be improved road safety, fewer road crashes, less money spent treating injuries and more hospital beds available for other patients, he said.

There are about 1.24 million traffic deaths each year worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation.

The goal of the UN Decade of Action on Road Safety is to reduce the forecast 2020 level of road deaths by 50 per cent, to fewer than a million a year.

In Abu Dhabi, road deaths occur at an average of one every 26 hours, injuries at one every 54 minutes and more than 50 per cent of collisions involve drivers with fewer than five years experience, according to 2011 statistics by Abu Dhabi Police and the Health Authority Abu Dhabi.

rruiz@thenational.ae