Traffic training, strict seat belt policy, and use of smart technology are some of the ways to combat minibus-related accidents, according to road safety experts in Dubai.
"Use of artificial intelligence (AI) to safeguard the lives of minibus users can prevent accidents like the most recent one that killed seven workers," said Laura Kelly, assurance director of Serco Middle East, at the recently held fourth annual 'Road Safety Awareness Day'.
Minibus-related accidents, driving culture, speeding, road safety innovations, best practices in bus transformation, safety measures in school buses, tyre safety, and psychometric testing for drivers were some of the topics discussed at the forum.
Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the event, Kelly said: "We feel passionate about road safety. Every day, we transport over 4,000 employees, and we are aware of the high number of minibus accidents that take place in the UAE."
However, Serco is not planning a blanket ban on minibuses for the transport of its employees.
"Employees' personal behaviours, limited number of staff on buses, tracking driver speed, using the latest technology, and specific seat belt policy are some ways to combat risks," she explained.
Distraction causes accidents
The Dubai Police have revealed that distractions while driving resulted in sudden swerving that caused 438 accidents in 2018, with 495 people injured and 59 fatalities.
In addition, there were 61 recorded deaths on Dubai's roads in the first half of this year.
Captain Salem Al Amimi from the Dubai Police said the force is making a concerted effort to educate citizens about the risks of reckless driving.
Presenting a study of road accidents in the UAE, Capt Al Amimi said young Emirati drivers have been found to contribute to the high percentage of crashes involving UAE citizens.
The UAE federal target is to reduce road casualties to three per 100,000 by 2021.
Across the world, 1.3 million people are killed every year as a result of vehicular accidents, Kelly said quoting estimates from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Some 20-50 million sustain non-fatal injuries.
"While drivers and passengers must behave responsibly in order to reduce these worrying statistics, safe alternative modes of transport are also easily accessible - including autonomous vehicles like the Metro, which has continuously met the vision of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to provide safe and smooth transport for all," Kelly added.
Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of the RoadSafetyUAE, said: "We strive to reduce the number of road traffic fatalities and injuries in the UAE, and we look forward to continuing to work with like-minded companies in the months and years ahead as we make a difference by realising this vision."
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