DUBAI: A six-car pile-up at the Dubai Bowling Centre intersection in Al Quoz killed one and injured four others last Tuesday.
But statistically speaking, Tuesday is the safest day to drive and September one of the safest months. The most dangerous month it turns out is January and Friday is the most dangerous day.
I can’t say why accidents spike on a Friday, but I would speculate it is because people deviate from their week-time driving pattern
Statistics culled from the Dubai Police website show you are around 20 per cent more likely to get into a car crash on Friday than on any other day of the week. Friday has held this dubious distinction for at least four consecutive years.
It topped other days of the week with 569 accidents in 2009, 468 in 2010 and 446 in 2011. The worrying trend continues this year. Of the 1,673 traffic accidents reported until July 2012, 280 have occurred on Friday.
When authorities compile the Friday horror toll for all of 2012, victims like the Egyptian who was cut in half in front of his wife and daughter will become just another number. The 30-year-old was hit by a car when he stopped to fix a flat tyre on Emirates Road early this month.
The statistical breakdown makes for yet another chilling revelation. Over 60 per cent of all Friday accidents took place at night. Instances of drink driving, speeding and underage driving increase significantly during the night hours and each contributes to the increased fatalities.
Since 2009 Fridays have accounted for 102 deaths and 1,763 injuries in road accidents, most of them after sundown.
Reckless driving nearly cost the lives of three Sri Lankan sisters on one such Friday night when their SUV jumped a red light in Bur Dubai and flipped over several times after hitting a another car. Miraculously, no one was injured.
But there was no such providence for four young Syrians. They died instantly when their driver lost control and crashed into another vehicle on Emirates Road a few years ago. It was a Friday.
With 1,629 accidents, Thursday is the second most hazardous day to drive with 100 deaths since 2009.
Mostafa Al Dah, an Emirati traffic safety researcher at Loughborough University in England, feels the death toll on weekends could be because of UAE’s ‘weekend cruising’ culture. He should know. For his PhD thesis on the ‘Causes and consequences of road crashes in Dubai’, Mostafa analysed the records of nearly 18,000 injury-causing accidents in Dubai between 1995 and 2006. “I can’t say why accidents spike on a Friday, but I would speculate it is because people deviate from their week-time driving pattern,” he was quoted as saying in a newspaer report.
Interestingly, Thursday had the highest number of accidents (16.6 per cent) in 2005. But that was before the UAE changed its weekend from Thursday and Friday to Friday and Saturday.
Bizarrely in the UK too, Friday is responsible for 17 per cent more crashes than other days of the week. Steve Evans, chief executive of Accident Exchange, which conducted the research, attributed the trend to a “mentality of motorists rushing home”.
In Dubai, mid-week days like Monday and Tuesday have some of the lowest fatalities. Month-wise, January is the worst.
An analysis of crash data from 2009 through 2011 found that January accounted for an average of 9.5 per cent of accidents. A staggering 1,571 cars were involved in accidents in that month of each of these years. That’s about 17 cars per day. In contrast the figure for September from 2009-2011 was 932 - an almost 40 per cent drop.
Since 2009, around 200 more accidents have occurred between December-February than May-July. Observers have two reasons for this: fewer cars on the roads during summer as people are on vacation and more people visiting Dubai during winter.
— With inputs from Habiba Abd El Aziz
Not just road accidents, Friday also accounted for the first road rage deaths in the country in May this year when two young Omanis were shot dead in Al Ain after a quarrel with some unidentified youth over a minor traffic accident.
In numbers: 17 billion, that’s what car accidents have cost the UAE over the past three years