A traffic jam on a foggy day in Abu Dhabi. A single accident involving around 40 cars on a foggy day in July resulted in Abu Dhabi Police missing the target for serious injuries last year. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: A single accident on a foggy day is enough to jeopardise efforts to reduce road fatalities and serious injuries, a senior official told Gulf News on Monday.

Although Abu Dhabi was able to reduce the road accident fatality rate in 2017, the target for serious injuries was not achieved due to a single accident during fog in July, said Saleh Al Jaberi, head of Traffic Services Section at Abu Dhabi City Municipality.

The actual road accident fatality rate in Abu Dhabi was 6.5 per 100,000 people — well above the target of 7.4 — but the serious injuries rate was 7.7, which was below the targeted rate of 7.04.

“This was because of a single accident in July, involving around 40 cars. Fortunately, there were no fatalities. However, several serious injuries jeopardised our efforts to achieve the target in this regard last year,” Al Jaberi said on the sidelines of the first day of Global Road and Traffic Safety conference.

Abu Dhabi authorities have taken several steps to prevent accidents during foggy weather, Al Jaberi said, including stopping the movement of trucks. Government employees are also allowed to reach office later and schools start only after the fog has cleared.

Road users’ behaviour is the major challenge in traffic management as more than 90 per cent of accidents are caused by human error, Al Jaberi said.

Sudden swerving just before a bridge or ramp causes many crashes. “… because drivers are probably distracted by some thoughts or are having a conversation on mobile phones,” he said.

Footbridges

Although the municipality has constructed around 28 pedestrian bridges on Abu Dhabi island and the mainland, many people are still crossing the road under these bridges.

“People have to understand that the government has made infrastructure and rules for their safety,” Al Jaberi said.

Twelve more pedestrian bridges are in the design and approval stages. At some intersections, there are push-button systems operated by solar power to help pedestrians. “When they push the button, motorists have to give way to pedestrians,” Al Jaberi said.

Authorities are studying the risk areas where more accidents occur to find the reasons and take remedial steps. The municipality fixes engineering problems on roads and Abu Dhabi Traffic Police solves traffic rule related problems. “We also support awareness drives, which are crucial in reducing accidents,” Al Jaberi said.

Since the behaviour of older people is difficult to change, authorities are focusing on children. “For example, my daughter asks me to slow down when I speed up while driving!” he said.

If schoolchildren are taught better road behaviour, they will educate their parents, Al Jaberi said.

Most accidents occur on Thursdays in Abu Dhabi

Most road accidents occur on Thursdays in Abu Dhabi, compared to other days of the week, a senior official said.

“This is a global trend. People rush towards their destinations on the day before the weekend, causing more accidents,” said Shmsa Al Muharrami, Engineer Traffic Service at the Abu Dhabi City Municipality.

She said Thursdays record at least 15 per cent more accidents than other days of the week. Although elaborate figures were not available, she said most of the accidents occurred during peak hours, including the evening.

“Many people from other emirates who work in Abu Dhabi rush back to their homes just before the weekend.” Their rush may cause accidents, she said.

In numbers

■  5.5 road accident fatalities / 100,000 population aimed by 2020
■  6.5 road accident fatalities / 100,000 population in 2017
■  7.4 road accident fatalities / 100,000 population targeted in 2017
■  7.04 serious injuries in road accidents/ 100,000 population targeted in 2017
■  7.7 serious injuries in road accidents/ 100,000 population in 2017
■  Over 90% accidents caused by human error