Driving along Sheikh Zayed Road today gives one a sense of just how sophisticated transport infrastructure in the Emirates has become. This sophistication is a result of the government having invested billions in the development of an ultra modern road system. This far-sighted approach to transport infrastructure will enable the Emirates to continue to expand commercially well into the next century.
The expected benefits of the new road networks are strategic. By making both commuting and transportation of goods a smooth, speedy and safe operation, Dubai will be able to save on time and labour while improving productivity and the quality of life of its citizens. The new road networks are also designed to integrate the various suburban and rural sectors with the Central Business District in the Emirate. These new networks will also keep up with the changing pace of life in the city and the demands of a growing metropolis.
But there is another side to this development. Although the road system is modern and one of the best in the world, some of the people that use them do not fit the same description.
It is indeed ironic, given the vast resources spent in developing such a modern road system, that a substantial number of our road users are unaware of even the most basic rules of the road. One only has to open the daily papers to see and read about the terrible accidents and injuries brought about by ignorance ad thoughtlessness. Giving little consideration for others and exercising care would avoid a large percentage of the accidents that occur.
It is the mindset of those using the roads that needs educating. Certainly, strictly enforcing traffic regulations is one of the steps that need to be taken. But it must be combined with a continuous system of driver and passenger education. The use of seatbelt, for instance, which has been proven everywhere to save lives, is a case in point. There are seatbelts in every car and research and statistics show that by ‘belting up’ for every journey serious injury and death can, in many accidents, be avoided. All it takes is some common sense and a little bit of thought for the way we drive, to create a much safer environment for everyone that uses the road systems; drivers, passengers and pedestrians.
A consequence, better driving practices do more than save lives. They also reduce the costs for both the motorist and the government by reducing insurance premiums. The motorist’s benefit, by reducing the demand on emergency services, policing and traffic controls; the country as a whole benefits.
Which means that there is an urgent need for better driving standards. For, as the road system becomes increasingly more sophisticated and cars more powerful, this lack of a basic understanding of the Highway Code and the lack of consideration shown to other road users will make driving even more hazardous that it is now. It is not just an economic or social issue alone; it must be seen as a sign of the nation’s maturity as well. For without civilized individual behaviour how civilized can a nation be- no matter how modern its face?