Al Ain: The occurrence of vehicle fires during accidents is so alarming that it warrants an investigation into the causes, said a road safety expert.

Several recent accidents have resulted in fatal vehicle fires. Dr Yaser Hawas, Director of the Roadway, Transportation and Traffic Safety Research Centre (RTTSRC) in Al Ain, said the centre has been collecting information.

"We are examining these accidents to ascertain whether it's a car manufacturing fault, nature of the accident or any other aspect that set the vehicle on fire after the collision," he said.

The RTTSRC, he said, will be willing to help police and other authorities if asked. "We have a dedicated facility and technology to investigate the accidents from all possible aspects," he said.

The rise in vehicle fires is alarming and needs to be investigated in detail, he said.

Dr Hawas said vehicles do catch fire when their fuel tanks are hit or if there is a leakage of petrol after an accident. "We have also seen accidents in which some cars caught fire after hitting an electric box, but the frequency of such incidents is rare," he said.

The centre has been compiling data on traffic accidents for the past three years. Studies based on the data have been helping the RTTSRC to advise different government institutions.

The STTSRC is part of UAE University, which was established in July 2004. It has been extending its help in road engineering, transportation and traffic safety research.

Dr Hawas said the STTSRC's goal is to establish a database on road traffic accidents and injuries and assess their impact on the community.

The centre has partnership agreements with the Accident Research Centre of Australia's Monash University, the municipalities and Agriculture Departments Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi General Health Authority, Ministry of Interior and the General Directorate of Abu Dhabi Police.