I was interested to read that when Blackberry service was disrupted last week officials reported that road traffic accidents in Dubai fell by 20 per cent and 40 per cent in Abu Dhabi.
The United Arab Emirates, where both cities are located, has the eight highest national road traffic accident rate in the world. The statistics show that 37.1 per 100,000 are killed in road traffic accidents every year! Those figures are about five to ten times the rate of the developed world. I am not surprised. I went on holiday with Mrs Thom to Dubai a few years ago and I was very scared on the roads. I didn’t even drive – sitting in a taxi was bad enough. Everyone drove so fast and nobody seemed to have any road manners or know the rules of the road!
It appears that Blackberry texting and emailing whilst driving seems to be a major contributor to the UAE’s dangerous traffic. Figures show that the Middle East and North Africa, particularly the countries with the greatest oil wealth have some of the highest road traffic fatality rates in the world. You would think that countries with such few people would have clean, clear, open safe roads when compared to the war-torn nations of South Asia and Central Africa.
However it has been pointed out that oil wealth might actually make the roads more dangerous. Residents, who often live of ludicrously large salaries, are used to seeing the government as a body who gives out money, rather than as a regulatory and policing body.
One ex-pat claimed that he could drive up to 159 kph without triggering a radar camera – which was easy to spot. Another contributing factor the road traffic accident rate could be the fact that many young people are able to afford extremely powerful cars, they then ignore the speed limit, fail to wear seat-belts and text whilst driving.