Abu Dhabi steps up safety drive after 20% increase in severe and fatal motorbike crashes

There have been 210 serious accidents so far this year, compared with 169 last year

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A: Coronavirus. Delivery drivers wait at a red light during the 24hr lockdown due to Covid-19. Tuesday, April 14th, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Abu Dhabi has registered a 20 per cent increase in accidents resulting in the death or injury of motorcyclists this year.

There have been 210 serious accidents among bikers in 2021, compared to 169 similar crashes throughout 2020, and 162 in 2019.

The number of accidents without injuries rose even more sharply, from 1,267 crashes in 2019 to 1,696 in 2020, representing a 33 per cent increase in one year.

“If you look at the accident statistics, they are really disturbing,” said Arif Mehmood, a safety planning specialist at the Department of Transport.

“There is an increasing number of accidents every year.”

The figures confirm other studies, which found the boom in deliveries across the country had fuelled a surge in motorcycle accidents in recent years.

Mr Mehmood, addressing an awareness session for bikers and delivery drivers in the capital on Tuesday, said the top causes of accidents were “non-compliance” with traffic rules, followed by failing to leave a safe distance and sudden lane changes.

Fatigue due to long working hours was also a factor, said the Integrated Transport Centre (ITC), which held the event.

That meant behaviour had to change. But wearing proper protective equipment, such as helmets, jackets, gloves and boots, was also important as it would help protect them in the event of an accident, he said.

The session was attended by about 100 delivery drivers, most of whom work for food delivery companies.

It focused on the importance of wearing protective gear while driving.

“We want you to be safe,” said Mr Mehmood.

“The most important component of today’s workshop is the personal protective equipment (PPE).

“What I mean is not only the helmet. It is important, but the other things we don’t hear about are also very important.

“Most of you while you are on the road care about the helmet. You don’t care about the jacket, gloves and boots and all of that.

“We are here to teach you or guide you that the PPE is for your safety."

Helmets should fit snugly and be no older than five years, Mr Mehmood said.

Research has shown the use of a proper helmet designed for bikers reduces the risk of severe head injuries by 70 per cent and the risk of dying by about 50 per cent, he said.

And drivers should wear proper jackets and gloves designed for bikers. They should also wear boots designed for bikers, not trainers or slippers as most delivery drivers currently do, he added.

“That is not good. It is not safe."

ITC said the road safety awareness initiative was part of a drive by Abu Dhabi to "reduce fatalities from road crashes to zero".

"The Joint Committee for Traffic Safety in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has initiated several initiatives to accomplish the Vision Zero target," it said in a statement.

"One of the initiatives is to enhance the safety of the delivery motorcyclists."

Other emirates in the country have also reported an increase in motorbike accidents over the past years.

A survey by Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority, campaign group RoadSafetyUAE and fleet management company MiX Telematics, recorded a 29 per cent rise in accidents involving motorbikes in 2019, compared with 2018.

Figures showed there were 244 motorbike collisions in 2019, up from 189 in 2018. Of last year's accidents, 121 were found to have been caused by the rider – up from 79 the previous year.

Figures for 2020 have not been released, but at an event last October, Dubai Police said 12 drivers died during April alone, as delivery fleets swelled to cope with demand during the three-week movement restriction.

A RoadSafetyUAE survey in 2017 found one in five delivery riders had been in an accident.

Recent research into cyclists in Al Ain found that most of them did not wear proper protection or lights.

Researchers at UAE University found that 98 per cent of cyclists who use their bikes for work don't wear helmets, while 96 per cent cycle at night without lights.

The study involved 1,129 cyclists chosen randomly and the majority of them were non-local, adult males, many of whom were carrying out deliveries.

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Updated: December 09, 2021, 5:33 AM