The UAE is turning the tide in the fight to reduce road deaths, but too many drivers and passengers are still losing their lives, a road safety event heard.
A meeting of transport experts, companies and campaigners in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday heard the country is on course to reach its target of only 3 deaths on the road per 100,000 people, a key goal of UAE Vision 2021.
The number of road deaths was 6.1 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016. The latest figures have that number at 4.4.
The figures were cited by Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE, who spoke at the event at New York University Abu Dhabi.
"We want to educate people to stop reckless driving and to realise what they are doing is dangerous," he said.
He said that road safety concerns the entire population.
“There is still a long way to go but we are getting there with the support of the UAE government,” he said.
The use of seat belts – which only became law last summer – is a key factor in the prevention of deaths.
“In 2017 the Abu Dhabi Police did a forensic test of all the people who died on the roads and looked at who was wearing a seat belt,” he said.
“They found that 60 per cent of the people who died on the roads were not actually wearing a seat belt.”
National Editorial: Reckless drivers should be exposed and dealt with
Mr Edelmann also called for people to allow more time to reach their destinations when they are travelling.
“Running late is the main reason for speeding,” he said.
“People are trying to catch up because of poor time management.”
He also welcomed the recent removal of speed buffers in Abu Dhabi. Previously, motorists were allowed to drive at 20kph faster than the limit set by the road signs.
That ambiguity was removed in August, with the speed limits stated in clear terms.
“This was long overdue but the fact that it is only in Abu Dhabi adds an element of confusion,” he said.
"We need the same federal traffic laws across the whole country. There is no such buffer in other countries."
Also speaking at the event was Lieutenant Yusuf Saeed from Abu Dhabi Police.
He said one of the biggest obstacles to road safety was complacency from drivers.
“Overconfidence and not paying attention to the rules of the road are major causes of accidents,” he said.
“It is often the case that drivers are not focusing on the road itself, often they are using their phones and are not fully aware of the environment around them.”
He said Abu Dhabi's recent decision to end the 'speed buffer' will help to "avoid confusion".
Lt Saeed outlined three areas in which drivers can improve their road safety awareness.
“You need to have fast reactions, anticipation and to drive slowly,” he said.