The disproportionate role lorries play in road accidents might be shocking but the solution is not out of reach. As The National reported last week, lorries have been involved in a high number of traffic accidents since January, ranging from overloaded lorries losing control to several fatal accidents involving pedestrians and smaller cars. They were responsible for 6 per cent of serious accidents in Abu Dhabi, while 16 per cent of serious accidents in the capital involved lorries. This problem is not confined to Abu Dhabi and affects roads nationwide.
Safer lorry driving can be approached in the same manner as general road safety but with one important caveat. Targeted awareness campaigns must be increased for all new and seasoned lorry drivers. In addition, strict enforcement of existing traffic laws is necessary to send a clear message that road safety is a matter of the highest priority. There must be zero tolerance when it comes to lorry drivers breaking traffic laws.
Unlike most drivers, however, lorry drivers must constantly battle fatigue. According to the law in Abu Dhabi, the maximum shift varies between eight and 10 hours. Given the large amount of time spent behind the wheel, drivers can transform normally safe operation of lorries into danger on the roads with relative ease. The same principle is evident in exhausted taxi drivers.
As such, the promotion of safer lorry driving falls heavily on lorry operators. This is where the issue of lorries is different from general road safety. Through awareness training about the need for breaks and a shorter number of hours spent behind the wheel, lorry operators can become the leading advocates for safer roads nationwide.
As businesses, these operators can be regulated in a different and perhaps stricter manner than drivers of passenger cars. Thus, operators known to ignore the fatigue of its drivers or those whose drivers are regularly involved in lorry accidents must face increased scrutiny. The safety of people on our roads is simply too important to do otherwise.