27,000 years of potential killed off on the roads
This week, Health Authority Abu Dhabi released statistics showing that approximately 27,000 years of life are snatched away in fatal accidents on Abu Dhabi roads every year.
The figure is based on the average life expectancy each victim would have had - so if a 20-year-old died it is calculated as 50 years lost, based on an average life expectancy of 70 years.
It’s almost an incomprehensible figure - 27,000 years lost annually.
To put it in some perspective, 27,000 years ago humanity was still in the Stone Age, agriculture hadn’t been discovered and Neanderthals still roamed the earth.
And that time leap only covers one year of accidents.
There are more years lost to road accidents annually than to heart disease and cancer, in part, HAAD says, because car crash victims tend to be younger.
It’s a frightening statistic, which leads to serious questions about the standard of driving in Abu Dhabi and the level of law enforcement covering it.
Lebanese born Elise Sarkis, the marketing manager at Le Meridien Hotel, got six speeding tickets in the capital last month, an indication that speeding laws are being enforced in the city.
“It’s definitely stricter than in Dubai,” she said.
“All my tickets were for just for the Corniche area, and I have no tickets for Dubai, so that shows you.”
However, Sarkis said that chronic traffic congestion, especially in the Tourist Club Area, was making it very hard to see pedestrians, which was adding to the danger.
“There are so many cars parked everywhere that it is very difficult to see someone step out to cross the road, that is definitely unsafe. Also, I have to cross five lanes of traffic in 50m to make a turn in one part of the Tourist Club Area. That is not safe, especially if someone is also crossing the road,” she said.
Lawyer Maher Al Hali from Syria said: “People obey the rules here much more than they do in Syria. There are more traffic lights and more respect for the law, so that gives me more confidence on the roads.”
However, he said speed was a problem. “I was driving to Al Ain last week I was just inside the speed limit. There were so many cars going faster than me so they were breaking the limit. This is a problem here, it will have to be stopped,” he said.