What have been the major updates with regards to road safety in the country?
As per the statistics, there has been a remarkable drop in the percentages of road accidents and fatalities in Q12018: 11% drop in road accidents, 22% percentage drop in road fatalities, and 14% drop in injuries compared to the same period in 2017. There has also been a 50% drop in the percentage of fatalities due to car accidents even after an 11% increase in number of vehicles and 6% increase in license holders. Working closely with the traffic department, we highlighted the main cause of these accidents, which does not depend on the skills of the driver, the vehicle's abilities, or the driving experience, but the driver's attitude and behavior. After some thorough research, we realized it depends on the environment in which the student is raised and their initial source of information about driving and motor vehicles. Thus, we have been working on spreading safety awareness, targeting all ages, from aged 6-10 to teenagers and adults. This awareness campaign has been delivered by participating in traffic and educational-related events and also social media.
Can you give us a few examples of the major challenges with regards to changing drivers' attitudes?
More people mean more vehicles on the road, which in turn increases the risk of traffic instability. This is a huge challenge for us and the traffic departments, and, therefore, we work together to monitor handle, and control the change using methods of education, awareness, rules, and regulations. Another major challenge is mobile phone usage while driving. Highlighting it to the youth and showing examples of its dangers will have a positive impact on road safety. Another issue is related to the use of seat belts: most people only follow the law to avoid fines. However, when we directly communicate with them and let them experience our rolling car, for example, they understand the real importance of buckling up. The private sector has been showing great concern about safety measures in all fields, initiating annual events for employees and visitors to offer training and information needed during possible critical situations.
What are the major cross-border risk-management approaches that countries in the region should focus on developing?
During the annual Gulf Traffic Week, GCC companies meet and discuss the growth of the traffic system, the status of traffic, the facts and statistics of the traffic system, how it is managed, and new methods and technologies that have been introduced to give a positive impact. As per studies on risk management, drivers still need to learn the proper defensive driving skills in order to remain alert. To that end, we have introduced defensive driving training courses where we develop drivers' skills. This will then be extended as training services to major companies involved in large-scale production. Moreover, EDC has been leading the way to foster cooperation and communication across police and emergency departments.
How will sustainability and eco-friendly measures impact the transport sector in Abu Dhabi?
Electric vehicles, or green vehicles, are the future. Current transportation vehicles heavily affect the environment, emitting almost 25% of the world's greenhouse gas emission volume. As green vehicles are completely electric, technology focuses more on developing electricity sourcing instead of using the old method of consumption. In terms of congestion, a communication system has been enhanced on these vehicles. Vehicles will be able to communicate to give drivers estimates and solutions when it comes to congestion in certain areas. Nonetheless, we cannot only depend on upgrading vehicles; the road structure will definitely have to be developed to adapt to the UAE's growing population. Therefore, other methods of transportation such as trams, metros, and electric buses should be installed.