For those who don’t already know, I have been making the treacherous commute from Dubai to Abu Dhabi every day for the past month. It’s about 120 km each way and some may think – as I did – that so many others do it and there’s nothing wrong with a little commute. I’m Canadian after all – we’re used to spending long stretches behind the wheel as we trek across our home and native land.
Reality hit pretty quickly as I contemplated what this drive would be like when I’m working 16 hour days leading up to the hotel opening (more about that later) and whether keeping my amazing life in Dubai is really worth two hours of terror every day. With the end of my apartment lease in Dubai coming up quickly, I was forced to make a decision. Coincidentally, several reports were released this week regarding traffic statistics on UAE roads. While the reports showed a positive change, the numbers speak for themselves – and it’s a scary story they tell.
This is ultimately what cemented my decision to move from Dubai to Abu Dubai.
The number of traffic accidents in the UAE fell by about 20% from 9,658 in 2009 to 7,642 in 2010. Fatalities fell nearly 14%, from 966 in 2009 to 826 in 2010. In 2011, there were 6,700 accidents. Seems like good news, right? Until you consider that these crashes resulted in 7,808 injuries and 720 deaths. That’s over 560 accidents and 60 deaths – every month – in UAE. 60 deaths are entirely preventable every single month?! Tragic.
Also bear in mind that UAE is small – only 83,000 km sq. To put it in perspective, it’s slightly larger than the province of New Brunswick.
The stretch of highway between Dubai and Abu Dhabi is infamous for bad driving; the rules, rather than the exceptions, include excessive speeding over 200 km/hr, tailgating and flashing high-beams, passing on the shoulder of the road, and just general bullying. I continue to be shocked daily by the antics I see. While I often wish I could capture these on film, I’d much rather get home safely. But here is a little report I found from The National that will give you just a small glimpse.
I’ve read that there has been an increased police presence however in the 40+ hours I’ve recently spent making that drive, I have yet to see any at all. So how to change the lay of the land, literally? While having police and radar cameras more visible – and actually enforcing the laws – would help dramatically, I wish there was a way to call on each road rager and bully-beamer and ask them to lay off on what is entirely selfish behaviour. We’ll all get there in due time and if everyone would act more responsibly, we would all get there alive – inshallah.
Comment below and let me know what you think should happen to increase traffic safety.