Rules and sustainable transport will cut road deaths, UAE experts say

The private sector was also urged to contribute to building sustainable transport, which would in turn reduce fatalities and financial losses, experts said.

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ABU DHABI // About 1.5 million people die in road accidents around the world every year, but robust traffic rules and sustainable transport will help reduce this figure, experts say.

Dr Ayad Mohsen Altaai, environmental development consultant at the Department of Municipal Affairs in Abu Dhabi, said building these networks will reduce accidents and the costs that governments incur.

“When you look into the global scene of traffic fatalities, it’s 1.5 million a year and 60 million people receive injuries, in which 5 per cent become paralysed for the rest of their lives,” Dr Altaai said at the GCC Municipal Conference on Wednesday.

“Every country suffers from huge financial losses too, and it’s a huge burden on governments.”

Dr Altaai said that studies suggested that Saudi Arabia had “4.7 per cent of its GDP’s loss due to traffic accidents a year, which is really something unbelievable, while losses in developed countries are between one and 1.5 per cent of GDP”.

Traffic accidents put an economic burden on the UAE of about 2.3 to 2.9 per cent of the country’s GDP, he said.

Dr Altaai also urged the private sector to contribute to building sustainable transport, which would in turn reduce fatalities, and financial losses.

Separately, the conference also heard about quality of life and design issues in large cities.

Prof Tony Travers, director of LSE London, a research centre at the London School of Economics said quality of life was a key issue

“Quality of Life, vibrancy of a city, its capacity to communicate and its environmental sustainability are key assets required for a city to succeed. If it does not, then it risks the possibility of being left behind.”

Prof Travers called for municipalities to continue to learn and adapt.

“They need to keep thinking about what it is they are doing and what their successors are doing. They need to discuss their strengths and weaknesses and learn over time what can really make that city that much more successful.”

Saeed Eid Al Ghafli, chairman of the Department of Municipal Affairs in the capital, said it was constantly improving services for all people in the emirate.

“We at the Municipal System of the Emirate, as well as the municipalities of the UAE, adopt solid guidelines based on Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 and the UAE Vision 2021, which view upgrading government services as an essential step towards building a developed society.”

The GCC municipal conference concluded on Wednesday.

anwar@thenational.ae