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Road Safety Management

Road crashes are the second leading cause of death in Abu Dhabi (behind cardio-vascular disease) and are the number one crash cause for young drivers. It is also known that road crashes are complex multiple factor events that typically result from deficiencies in human behaviour, road design or vehicle defects singularly or in combination.

The severity outcome of crashes is also determined by a number of factors amongst others the speed on impact and the use of secondary safety systems such as seat belts. The complexity of crash causation requires remedial measures to be equally multi-faceted and a wide range of different stakeholders and disciplines including Abu Dhabi Police, Department of Transport, Abu Dhabi Municipality, Urban Planning Council and Abu Dhabi Health Authority are working together on the continuous reduction of road crashes, involving motorized and non-motorized vehicles as well as pedestrians.

Measures to improve road safety encompass (and exceed) the “Four Es” framework frequently applied in accident prevention work:

Enforcement relates to the contents of the Traffic Law and how instances of its violation as well as of road crashes can be recorded, prosecuted and eventually reduced. This requires highly trained staff as the importance of good incident data cannot be overestimated. Enforcement also includes the inspection of the technical conditions of the roads and of vehicles and of any transport services rendered to the public. In a wider context, enforcement comprises judicial actions, such as revisions to the Traffic Law and the implementation of systems for the prosecution of traffic violations.

Education enables all road users to have the skills, knowledge and attitudes necessary to facilitate their safe participation in traffic, and its interventions span the whole life course. They include road safety education for children and adolescents, including pedestrian training, driver and rider training, road safety awareness campaigns and community outreach programs that revolve around road safety. The DoT and its partner agencies use communication, both to reach Abu Dhabi’s road users through persuasive messages and to supply them with relevant information pertaining to road safety, for example changes in the Traffic Law. For example, the DoT is planning to release a Highway Code which will comprise rules for the safe use of the roads soon.

Engineering relates to measures focusing either on vehicles used on public roads or on the road infrastructure and layout itself. In relation to the vehicle, this comprises technical and safety specifications for vehicles and their inspection and maintenance outfits. With regard to roads activities comprise designing safe road layouts, including signage, conducting road safety audits and traffic impact studies, the creation of pedestrian and cycling facilities and the analysis and treatment of accident blackspots. For example DoT has a team of trained accident investigators that identifies the root causes of crashes and initiates the necessary actions to avoid their reoccurrence.

Emergency Medical Services deal with the consequences of traffic crashes and aim to supply traffic victims with quick and effective help after the occurrence of an accident. This requires coordination and efficient communication between the different emergency services, including the Police, the Emergency Medical Services and Civil Defence.

Road safety management can also include alternative or additional E’s such as Evaluation or Economy. Evaluation is a crucial point as it allows the systematic assessment of the effects of all the measures summarized under the previous headings. Data that can be gathered for the purpose of evaluation may include:

  • Crash data and accident investigation information
  • Traffic volumes and vehicle speeds
  • Pre-post intervention data, including traffic counts, traffic observations, road sensor data or road user attitudes

Data analysis is crucial as it helps decision makers at DoT to create strategies for road traffic safety improvements. If such data is gathered and available, it is also possible to calculate the cost of investments into road safety and compare them against the costs of road accidents to derive cost-benefit or cost-effectiveness calculations. The calculation of such indicators of effectiveness of road traffic crashes would be subsumed under the heading Economy.