This article in The National highlights the sharp drop of road fatalities in Dubai last year. 33 % drop is very significant (it’s phenomenal, in fact), and it deserves a closer examination. Commendable efforts by the RTA notwithstanding, such a sharp fall can’t be attributed to them alone (although one is so tempted……Not). Other than what is mentioned in the article, there are elements and variables that had come together to contribute to this drop. I will try here to think of some of them:
1- The article doesn’t distinguish between pedestrian accidents and vehicles' collision accidents. The former has been a tragic source of death in recent years, especially on highways like SZR. These would have been significantly reduced last year due to the opening of many pedestrian crossings over SZR (as part of metro stations…)
2- This is hard to quantify: but reduction in construction activities all over the place is also a factor. The article does refer to completion of road works and the eradication of spots that were ambiguous and confusing to drivers. But there’s something else: building construction too had slowed down, which meant less number of hurried concrete mixers or heavy equipments on the roads. Also, building contractors are entitled by law to occupy part of the road when they need to carry out major concreting or receive delivery of big construction parts. This is perfectly legal and any contractor can arrange it with a single application to Dubai Municipality (& Dubai Police, I think). Of course, they ought to observe safety procedures, and it’s hard to imagine how the cordoning of a lane at the side of road could lead to fatalities. However, one could think of domino effect and traffic botheration spilling from one place to another and worsening the general mood.
3- Speaking of moods: less traffic doesn’t only mean statistically less chances of cars colliding with each other. Getting stuck in traffic for hours could lead to high levels of stress and poor judgment. (on the other hand, one could argue that lax driving conditions could lead to carelessness…etc)
4- Also related to construction: there were several major accidents involving buses of construction workers in the last few years. One could assume that last year's construction schedules were more tolerant of delays, i.e. bus drivers no longer needed to rush like maniacs from camp to site in order to avoid being berated by the foreman. In addition to that; rents for labor camps had fallen and companies can afford to get laborer lodged somewhere near their place of work.
5- Maybe-- just maybe-- women had finally learned how to parallel-park.
Are there other reasons?
P.S. the entire post is written on the premise that the stats issued are legit and aren’t tweaked or interpreted to show a different picture than reality…… They wouldn’t do that, would they?