Experts have urged residents to be cautious and maintain proper etiquette, while also celebrating a happy and safe Eid Al Adha.
It is that time of the year when Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid Al Adha and it is no different in the UAE, with the diverse expatriate population too being an integral part of the celebrations.
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With it being a six-day Eid weekend starting from Monday, families and individuals are preparing to celebrate it in a big way with most set to get together or visit relatives or friends, to wish them. Some have also planned staycations or road trips to other emirates to discover some of the hidden gems, while others will perhaps head to the malls or the beaches.
But the holiday season is also fraught with an element of risk as many motorists will be on UAE roads. Over the years, holidays have seen a spike in accident rates, especially during Eid Al Fitr, Eid Al Adha and New Year’s eve. And road safety experts in the UAE have warned residents of these risks and urged them to be cautious and maintain proper etiquette, while also celebrating a happy and safe Eid Al Adha.
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“Festive seasons like Eid, the Holy Month, the holiday season/New Year creates more traffic than usual as we want to see people close to us, our families, our friends,” Thomas Edelmann, the founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, told Khaleej Times.
And this usually leads to minor or major accidents. The horrific bus accident, which killed 17 people during Eid Al Fitr in June 2019, is still fresh in memory.
Such accidents are caused because drivers, in a hurry to reach their destination, get distracted and indulge in speeding. They also swerve across lanes which makes it even more dangerous.
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“Motorists often anticipate the get-together and drive in a distracted manner, which leads to speeding, lane swerving and the other forms of unfortunate misbehaviour we experience on our roads,” said Edelmann.
Accidents over the years
There have been plenty of accidents over the years during festive seasons, despite repeated advisories issued by the police across the country.
During last year’s five-day Eid Al Fitr holidays, 412 accidents were recorded by the Dubai Police and they received 24,198 calls on the hotline — 19,317 of which were through the 999 emergency line and 4,881 calls on 901. Some of the accidents, the police said, were due to speeding and tailgating.
During the Eid Al Adha holidays in August 2019, 950 accidents were reported, according to the Command and Control Centre of the Dubai Police, with 28,603 calls made to their emergency hotline.
Colonel Turki bin Fares, director of the centre, had explained that speeding, tailgating, distracted driving and sudden change of lanes were some of the reasons for the accidents.
During the Eid Al Adha holidays in August 2018, 1,661 accidents were recorded, according to the Dubai Police and they had received 68,203 calls.
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And, yet again, the most common causes were speeding, sudden swerving, not leaving enough distance between vehicles and neglecting road-users.
In the first week of Ramadan this year, over 1,400 minor accidents were reported in Sharjah. And the reasons were sudden changing of lanes, not leaving enough distance between two vehicles, drivers’ inattentiveness, negligence and over speeding.
Edelmann reiterated the importance of time management to avoid such accidents.
“The elements of time management are critical too as we have a tendency to start late for appointments and then try to catch up lost time on the roads,” he said.
Edelmann, who founded RoadSafetyUAE after 25 years in the corporate world, advised motorists to plan their trips well ahead and concentrate on the road while driving.
“Our advice to motorists is to plan their trips well, to leave early, to stay focused when they drive and to apply the best manners and road etiquette,” Edelmann suggested.
Dubai Police to deploy 120 patrols
The Dubai Police are well prepared and equipped to deal with any eventuality and are set to deploy 120 patrols, to ensure safety of motorists and road users.
These will be mainly positioned in areas such as the Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates, JBR, City Walk, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd, Festival City, Mirdif City Centre, La Mer, Kite Beach, Airport St, Al Seef St, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Rd, Emirates Rd, Dubai-Al Ain Rd, Al Etihad Rd, Al Khaleej St, Al Quds St, Amman St, Academic City St, Ras Al Khor St, and Jumeirah St.
“We have instructed our traffic police patrols and wardens to step up efforts to protect people’s lives and ensure their happiness especially during this happy occasion,” Colonel Jumaa Salem bin Suwaidan, Acting Director of the General Directorate of Traffic at Dubai Police, said.