Unsafe driving causes most traffic accidents

Speeding has been identified as the main cause for 30 severe road crashes inspected by the Department of Transport with the traffic and road safety department at Abu Dhabi Police.

This pedestrian bridge off Airport Road is among the measures taken to cut traffic accidents. Sammy Dallal / The National
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ABU DHABI // Speeding drivers, not the design or quality of roads, are the main cause of 30 severe crashes, according to a report by police and the Department of Transport.

The study was part of an inspection programme run by a team from the department and the police road-safety division.

It covered Abu Dhabi’s motorways, severe crashes and engineering measures to reduce the number of accidents leading to serious injuries and deaths.

“The majority of the crashes were due to human factors,” a department official said. “Speeding and other causes were observed and supported by Abu Dhabi Police investigation reports.”

The team also investigated pedestrian-related accidents. As a result, median fences, pedestrian bridges and mid-block signalised crossings for pedestrians were built.

“As usual, much of the issue of accidents consists of the drivers themselves,” said Glenn Havinoviski, a transport expert in Abu Dhabi.

“A perfectly straight eight to 10-lane road such as the E11 has a significant number of accidents despite what would seem to be a textbook design.

“In my observation, you have a mix of drivers travelling way too fast and vehicles travelling too slow.

“If the drivers who are travelling too slow, under the 80kph minimum, are not in the right lane, you will see passing on the right, which as anyone who has taken a drivers’ education class knows is something you just should not do.

“When speeders weave across three to four lanes of traffic looking for a space, that further upsets the safety of the road.”

To improve road safety and reduce serious crashes in the capital, authorities have also installed crash cushions and barrier systems, plus cycle tracks in the new road designs at residential areas.

“We have identified a few locations where short-term engineering measures could help prevent similar crashes in the future,” said the DoT official, without saying where. “We will continue to monitor these locations to evaluate their effectiveness.”

Improvements were made to traffic junctions and road entrances. Authorities installed concrete barriers and guardrails with crash-worthy end terminals and crash cushions to protect all road users from potential hazards.

“There are continuous efforts to coordinate our findings of the post-collision programmes with other relevant authorities and entities to ensure lessons learned are shared,” the DoT official said.

“These include the safety committees, groups working on pedestrian safety, speed management and other road-safety initiatives across the Abu Dhabi emirate.”

Road deaths in Abu Dhabi dropped to 263 last year from 409 in 2009. The fatality rate fell from 22.7 per 100,000 people in 2009 to 11.5 per 100,000 last year, said Bader Al Qamzi, the director of integrated planning at the Department of Transport.

The Abu Dhabi Safety and Traffic Solutions Committee has set a new target of cutting the death rate to a maximum of nine deaths per 100,000 by 2021. Its initial target was 16 per 100,000 by 2021.

The committee was created by the Executive Affairs Authority in January 2009 to deal with all aspects of road safety and commuting.

Other members are from the departments of transport and municipal affairs, police and the Urban Planning Council. The aim is to provide a unified, comprehensive and co-ordinated effort towards addressing the current and future traffic safety and transportation requirements for Abu Dhabi.