Road safety in the United Arab Emirates has room for improvement. According to the Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018 published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), there were 18.1 deaths per 100,000 that year. This is high for a high-income country. The deaths in Canada and the United States were 5.8 and 12.4 per 100k respectively, while the safest country in the world was Norway with 2.7 deaths per 100k inhabitants.
Dubai has a lot of cars. In fact there is 540 cars per 1,000 people, or more than one car for every two people according to Roads and Transport Authority. This statistic puts the emirate amongst the highest countries in the world for vehicle density.
If it looks like if people in Dubai love cars, then their love has been deepening. The number of cars in the emirate doubled between 2006 and 2014, which was an annual increase of 8.2%. This again is one of the highest percentage increases in the world.
As with other territories with a high vehicle density, all these cars on Dubai’s roads means congestion. According to TomTom GPS, rush hour in Dubai has congestion of 31%, which means that you would expect to stay an extra nine minutes in the car on a half hour trip (9 minutes being 31% of 30 minutes).
The Dubai Road and Transport Authority (RTA) is addressing these problems using a Strategic Plan for RTA, this plan aims to improve traffic monitoring, road engineering, traffic awareness, and traffic management, as well as reducing traffic fatalities to 3 per 100k by 2021.
Between 2005 to 2014 the roads system in Dubai expanded by 50%. Now they have been built, they are being upgraded to smart roads, with plans to make half of the network smart. These smart roads will both give feedback to drivers about road conditions, and allow the RTA to manage traffic better.
The RTA has been getting international recognition for all it’s hard work in reducing traffic accidents in Dubai. In 2019 they won a prestigious Global Road Achievement Award for Road Safety from the International Road Federation (IRF) for the Dubai Traffic Accident Black Spot Management System. The safety measures that led to Dubai winning the award included building an enormous number of pedestrian bridges and tunnels, traffic calming measures in residential areas, and running traffic awareness campaigns.
To reduce traffic violations in Dubai, in 2012 the Dubai Police introduced the White Points system. This gives drivers a White Point for each month they go without violating any traffic regulations. Drivers who achieve five years of consistent White Points (i.e. without a violation) get entered into a raffle, where they might end up winning a brand new car.
To further reduce congestion-causing breakdowns, the Dubai Police recently asked drivers to check their cars for basic road-worthiness before they start a journey. Simple things that drivers should check for include their battery levels, tires, and fuel levels.