Lessons from tragedy

The re-enacting of an accident following an accident yields benefits

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Often, tragic events provide an opportunity to learn valuable lessons. That is the case with the sad story, reported in The National yesterday, of a policeman who was hit by a car and killed on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road last month while investigating a different car accident.

It was a subsequent re-enactment of the second accident that led the head of Dubai’s traffic department, Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zafeen, to assess how the situation was handled: police, he realised, had failed to secure the site, leaving open an exit from where the car that hit the policeman had emerged. The tragedy could have been prevented with a better management of accidents on the road. In this case, blocking the road should have been enough to save the policeman’s life.

All of us who drive the roads of the UAE have expressed exasperation when a road has been blocked or a diversion created. But equally, we’ve seen accidents and strained to view them as we drive past (“rubbernecking” is the term), thereby taking our eyes off the road. This case reminds us of the importance of re-enacting accidents, but also of the importance of simply blocking off accident sites from moving traffic: despite the inconvenience, in the chaos of an accident, a tragedy can too easily occur.