Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Speed indeed does kill!

Speed indeed does kill!

12 March 2008 (Editorial, Khaleej Times)

TUESDAY morning’s road tragedy was without doubt the worst ever witnessed in the United Arab Emirates, and with few parallels elsewhere in similar conditions. It appears early morning fog and a little faster driving than circumstances would have allowed made for the deadly mix that caused an unbelievable accident involving around 200 cars, leaving approximately a dozen dead and many, many injured.

Expectedly, the authorities were quick to attend to the injured, in some serious cases making the difference between life and death. Such was the magnitude of the accident that even those that were left physically unhurt could not escape the psychological trauma such scenes invariably carry.

The government has acted wisely in directing the ministry of the interior to mobilise all available resources to meet the emergency. Once the immediate needs of the injured are met, that would also entail investigating very seriously all possible reasons for the mishap.

While the investigation progresses, the authorities cannot really be faulted for failure to take adequate steps. Only at the start of the month the government exhibited its seriousness regarding road safety by introducing stricter rules to offset disturbing accident statistics.

Ultimately, the inquiries are likely to find that the prime responsibility rests with the people behind the wheel. It is unfortunate that some drivers in this part of the world at least have yet to betray appreciation for risks speeding is likely to carry. It is difficult to understand why traffic violations rise in numbers that sometime seem unbelievable for a place that hosts perhaps the most diverse mix of people anywhere in the world.

It seems most people just don’t realise that disobeying traffic rules puts not only their own lives in jeopardy, but also those of others, a lesson some people are bent upon learning the hard way.

From eyewitness reports, it is clear that speeding in less than ideal visibility was the main reason for yesterday’s tragedy, one that was clearly avoidable simply by sticking to the most basic driving rules. Considering how busy the Abu Dhabi highway is, it ultimately is quite understandable that what started as a couple of cars colliding quickly built into a massive pile-up, one with few similar examples.

There is an important lesson in this for the few than can become cause of untold miseries for many. If the government is forced to make traffic rules even more strict, it is for the people’s own good. A good start can be made by initiating a comprehensive campaign to educate expatriates who can sometimes take longer than others to adapt to trying driving requirements of the UAE.

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