The World Health Organization estimates that 1.25 million die each year due to road traffic incidents. Traffic incidents are the #1 cause of death in young people between the ages of 15 and 29 worldwide, and road traffic incidents are a major cause of mortality and morbidity in the UAE. In 2008, as many as 660 daily accidents were estimated to occur, and 489 accidents were recorded in Abu Dhabi over the first five months of 2016. While some efforts to reduce road fatalities have shown limited success, the UAE continues to top international mortality statistics, and road safety improvements remains a matter of national priority, as stated in the UAE’s Vision 2021.
The consequences of irresponsible driving extend beyond the loss of life of those involved. Those lucky enough to have survived traffic incidents suffer from dramatic deterioration in their quality of life. Frequently, those involved suffer severe physical trauma such as permanent disability or persistent pain, and psychological consequences including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder which can last for years. The consequences do frequently not only affect those injured during an incident, but also witnesses in the car or passers-by.
Beyond being tragic and having massive consequences for those involved and their families, traffic incidents are entirely preventable. The UAE has demonstrated its commitment to improving road safety through various campaigns and legislations which have managed to reduce mortality and morbidity during the past decade. Much work remains, however, particularly among young drivers between the ages 18 and 35 years, who account for 63% of all traffic accidents in Abu Dhabi. In the face of this vast public health challenge, the Core Team hopes that PHTT 2016 will inspire participants to carefully analyze the issue of road traffic incidents from various standpoints to devise creative and effective solutions to reduce mortality and morbidity and improve safety on the road.