Many of us remember the Al Ain lorry crash in 2013 that killed more than 20 people. This horrific accident highlighted critical safety issues, including driver fatigue due to long working hours and the lack of weighing stations on our roads to prevent overloading.
Unfortunately, little has changed in terms of enforcement since that tragedy, and lorry safety continues to be a challenge. As The National reported yesterday, road-safety experts say that drivers working in the logistics and transport sector continue to face long hours and poor working conditions that can affect their concentration. Many unqualified drivers are put on the roads, according to some analysts. These experts say that achieving and maintaining high standards of driving and keeping the roads safe will require organising vocational training, particularly for drivers of heavy goods vehicles.
These vehicles can pose a danger not just to drivers but to people in smaller passenger vehicles – a fact that was demonstrated in the Al Ain accident, where a lorry collided with a bus carrying more than 45 passengers.
Overloading means that the lorries need more time to brake, so the potential for them to roll over, or crash into another vehicle, is increased. Distribution of weight is another important issue. A load that is not properly balanced can shift unexpectedly, overturning the vehicle or causing a spillage.
Urgent changes are needed, starting with driver licensing – ensuring that they have completed the necessary safety training and requiring them to take frequent refresher courses.
This will require tougher enforcement and, perhaps, the implementation of new regulations. As Thomas Edelmann, founder of Road Safety UAE, said, the country also needs a proper legal framework that spells out the maximum working and driving hours.
We should not wait for another tragedy before acting to solve this issue.