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Death on the roads
The UAE has one of highest death rates for road users, says a recent report by WHO. The country has started taking some measures to curb dangerous driving.
June 16, 2009 1:44 by Aarti Nagraj
Road users in the UAE are almost seven times more likely to be killed than those in the UK, according to the Global Status Report on Road Safety, released by the World Health Organization (WHO), reports The National.
“The United Arab Emirates has a death rate, per 100,000 population, of 37.1,” said Tami Toroyan, a WHO technical officer. “Compare this to the UK for example, which is 5.4, and the figure is extremely high.”
“Even compared to the global average of 18.8, it is really high. It is a dangerous place to be on the roads – either as a pedestrian or a driver, and there needs to be more focus on vulnerable road users.”
The UAE is also the worst performer in the region as compared to Bahrain (12.1 per 100,000), Kuwait (16.9 per 100,000), Oman (21.3 per 100,000), Qatar (23.7 per 100,000), and Saudi Arabia (29 per 100,000).
Pedestrians constituted 28 percent of casualties in the UAE; a lack of bridges, road crossings and cycle paths puts pedestrians and cyclists at greater danger, said WHO authorities.
“They have good cars and good roads in the UAE – but there’s a lack of priority for pedestrians and cyclists,” said Toroyan.
Margaret Chan, the WHO’s director general, said the poor safety record of the UAE “deserves our highest attention” and asked officials to take action.
According to Toroyan, the government should reduce road speed limits from 60km/h to 50km/h. Seat-belt laws are also not stringent enough, she said. “If you’ve only got 61 per cent of your front seat occupants wearing seat belts, we are presuming that there’s a much smaller rate of those in the rear seats, since there’s no law,” she said. “The laws need to be revised and amended to what we call good practice.”
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