Road accidents caused the deaths of 381 people in the UAE last year and injured 2,620 others, compared with 256 deaths and 2,437 injuries in 2020, Ministry of Interior figures show.
The number of crashes also increased in 2021 — to 3,488 up from 2,931 in 2020.
During 2020 many of the roads were quieter due to stay at home measures at the height of the pandemic. While there was an increase in deaths last year, the long term trends in the UAE have been falling road fatalities.
A breakdown of the ministry figures meanwhile, which have been made publicly available on its website, showed that distracted driving caused 1,031 collisions last year, up from 816 in 2020.
Sudden swerving was the cause of 548 accidents in 2021 compared with 492 in 2020, while not keeping a safe distance between cars caused 484 crashes last year and 413 the year before.
Thomas Edelmann, managing director of Road Safety UAE, said while the death toll was still below the global trend every motorist had a role to play in making the roads safer.
“We all — not only Government — have to contribute to making drivers understand that they play a vital role in the context of road safety,” he told The National.
"This is for all motorists driving cars, trucks, e-scooters, motorcycles and for other people like pedestrians and every person participating in road safety. They have to look after their own safety and that of others and think about it like a captain of an aircraft and how it is their responsibility to look after the safety of their passengers and people around them. They must be at a very high degree of safe discipline.”
Mr Edelmann said although road deaths have dropped over the years from 525 in 2017, there was no room for complacency.
“We still see misbehaviour on the roads and every single road death is one too many and we must avoid it,” he said.
About 94 per cent of accidents are happening because of human error, he said.
The UAE has made huge efforts over the past few years to improve road safety through its system of motorway radars, fines, improving priority for pedestrians and public awareness campaigns to educate motorists about road safety.
Abu Dhabi Police regularly post CCTV video showing incidents on the emirate's roads to warn drivers of potential dangers.
The force on May 6 released video of a collision involving a number of vehicles to highlight the dangers of distracted driving and in February the force released footage highlighting the risks of motorists switching lanes without indicating.
Brig Gen Muhammad Al Hamiri, Director of Abu Dhabi Police’s Traffic and Patrols Directorate in the Central Operations Sector, said: “Abu Dhabi Police continues to raise awareness among motorists to reduce causes of traffic accidents that result in deaths and severe injuries.
“We urge motorists to avoid wrong behaviour when they are driving, such as negligence, distraction, turning around to talk to passengers, or taking photos."