Speeding killed 230 people in 525 accidents in UAE last year
60 per cent of Abu Dhabi traffic fatalities blamed on seatbelt violations
Road safety experts are urging UAE motorists to start the year in right gear - shun speeding and have an accident-free 2018.
Last year, speeding caused the death of 230 people out of the total 525 road fatalities in the UAE, said Major General Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, chairman of the Federal Traffic Council and Dubai Police assistant commander-in-chief for operations, at the recent launch of a unified traffic campaign dubbed 'Don't let speeding turn you into a killer'.
Maj-Gen Al Zafeen added that despite the decrease in number of road fatalities (1,535 accidents happened in 2017 due to speeding which led to 230 deaths, down from 1,787 accidents and 312 fatalities in 2016), the number is still high.
"Police authorities will make all efforts to achieve the goal of making the UAE the safest country in the world," he underlined.
Improving the behaviour of motorists by spreading the culture of road safety is the key to significantly reduce the staggering 7.727 million speed violations across the country in 2017, which is actually down from the 8.61 million speed violations recorded in 2016.
Moreover, a total of 525 people died in various types of traffic accidents in 2017 compared to 2016, which marked 706 deaths caused by different traffic accidents.
Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, said speed kills and this is aggravated by motorists' ignorance of seatbelt use.
He told Khaleej Times: "The most alarming number we came across in 2017 was 60 per cent of Abu Dhabi traffic fatalities occurred due to non-use of the seatbelt.
"In the absence of nation-wide numbers, it must be assumed that the nation-wide picture will not be different from the situation in Abu Dhabi. This is truly alarming," he added.
Edelmann emphasised that seatbelts reduce fatalities and injuries by 45-60 per cent. "UAE motorists know about these facts but still don't use the belt. This is the most pressing education need, especially in light of the new federal seatbelt law introduced July last year, mandating all people in the car to wear seatbelts," he noted.
Moreover, Edelmann also called on the motorists to have proper time management to avoid speeding.
"We know from our research data that the number one root cause why UAE motorists speed is that they are 'running late'. This also causes tailgating, bullying, jumping queues and other forms of reckless driving," Edelmann said.
He emphasised that "motorists must be educated to apply proper time management, meaning; to leave early, to plan their trips properly, to calculate extra time in dense traffic and problematic weather conditions".
"Proper time management reduces their (motorists) stress levels and increases the safety for themselves, their passengers and the other traffic participants around them," Edelmann added.
Another road safety expert, Ian Littlefield, training and quality manager at Dubai Driving Centre, said: "While speeding is a contributory factor in many of Dubai's fatal crashes, travelling at a speed that is inappropriate for the conditions, regardless of whether it is within the limit, is probably a key factor in all the 525 fatalities.
"The key factors for all drivers, novice or otherwise to consider should be: (1) Does my speed match what I can see happening around me; (2) Have I got enough space around my vehicle to allow me to react safely if things go wrong; and (3) Have I left myself enough time to complete my journey without having to push my limits and take risks," Littlefield emphasised.
"If drivers manage space and time effectively then there's very little that can go wrong for them," he added.
Meanwhile, safety engineer Yuri Cipriano, a Dubai resident who travels to work via Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Road (E 311), said: "The reduction of speed limit gave me a safer feeling while driving along E 311. I understand that the reduced speed limit lessens the probability and severity of road accidents. But it is just disappointing to see some drivers using their mobile phone while on the road; some are with headset but still, they are holding their phone.
"We have seen enough road fatalities and let's put a stop to that. It's the start of the new year and what better way can we start 2018 than by making our roads safe," he concluded.
KT Nano EditDefensive driving, please
We've said it before, we'll say it again, and we won't tire of saying it in the future, because we care for your life. What's stopping people from driving safely? Attitude. The road is no place to go on an ego trip. Take it easy behind the wheel; your life and that of others depend on it. Defensive driving does not make you a coward. You will only rise in esteem for using your head. Make the road your friend and earn its respect. Being alive is better than going stone cold.