Road Traffic Incidents: Causes and Remedies in the UAE

The UAE has made reducing road traffic incidents a key part of its Vision 2021 national agenda and a separate Key Performance Indicator. While the continued emphasis has resulted in significant reductions in road fatalities, the numbers have started rising again in parts of the country. Meanwhile, the UAE still trails other developed countries and has yet to meet its own ambitious 2021 targets.

Causes of road traffic incidents in the UAE

According to a Ministry of Interior report cited by Gulf News, there are eight main causes of traffic accidents, death, and serious injuries:

  1. Sudden swerving/lane changing
  2. Misjudgment
  3. Not enough distance to the car in front
  4. Entering road without checking if the road ahead is clear
  5. Speeding
  6. Inattention
  7. Jumping red lights
  8. Lack of lane discipline

Alarmingly, the majority of traffic incidents are caused by young drivers; Abu Dhabi police report that 64% of accidents reported in Abu Dhabi in 2014 were caused by drivers between 18 and 35 years of age, and more than one in three young  drivers report having been part of an accident.

Public health programs targeting young drivers

In the UAE, a number of public and private actors have already devised a broad range of interventions attempting to reduce the number of traffic incidents, which generally fit three major categories:

Educational programs: These programs aim to teach new drivers about the dangers of the road through optional training interventions. The UAE has seen a number of these programs, where many have been partnerships between the government and private actors such as Michelin, BMW, and Total. Driver training agencies such as the Emirates Driving Company have also made adjustments to their curricula to reflect the most prevalent incidents in the UAE.

Infrastructure: These programs aim to adjust the road network to reduce the number of injuries. While the UAE’s road infrastructure is modern, a number of steps have been taken to make drivers more alert, including introducing speed-changing zones that alert drivers about changing speed limits, road bumpsbarriers between the road and pedestrians, and urban planning measures such as narrowing the width of roads.

Legislative: These programs aim to reduce road traffic incidents through the introduction of legislation, such as stricter speed limits, stricter punishments for driving while using a cellphone, probationary restrictions for young drivers, and removing discounts for traffic violation tickets. These measures are often paired with stricter enforcement by deploying more traffic police or road cameras.

Steps ahead

While a broad range of interventions have been enacted in the UAE and have shown some success, statistics indicate that much work remains before the UAE’s roads are as safe as comparable countries. We look forward to continuing this conversation until November, so stay tuned for updates to the blog!

Cover picture by State Farm (CC BY 2.0)

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