IBIS ME shines light on road safety

Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, used his keynote speech at IBIS ME 2018 to highlight how his organisation is working with all stakeholders in the automotive industry to reduce road deaths in the region.

Supported by lead partners AkzoNobel and Audatex, and partners 3M AutoMillennium Group, Spanesi and Symach, IBIS ME 2018’s theme is ‘A shared vision; developing partnerships through collaboration’

Thomas explained that RoadSafetyUAE was set up with the express goal of saving lives, and is working with companies in the industry, the media and government agencies to raise awareness and bring the key issues of road safety to forefront of the minds of everyone.

He pointed to the UAE Vision 2021, a government business plan set up to improve safety, which aims to reduce fatalities to three people per 100,000. In 2017 it was 4.4.

He said, ‘The numbers have halved in the last decade, to there is a momentum behind this. But we need to do more.’

Thomas pointed out that road fatalities was the number two killer in the UAE, and, shockingly, the number one killer of children under the age of 15. Yet, he continued, there were a number of simple behavioural changes that drivers could make that would have a massive impact on the number of accidents in the region.

Thomas explained, ‘We want to understand the mindset of the UAE driver to help improve safety on the roads. We want to change behaviour, to work with people to help them understand how their habits need the change.’

The four leading contributing factors behind accidents in the region are all related to driver behaviour, and all have simple fixes. Number one is changing lanes without indicating, speeding was the second most deadly habit, with using a handset while driving and not wearing a seatbelt also leading causes of road deaths.

Thomas pointed out, however, that lane swerve is the number one cause of accidents. He asked why drivers don’t use their indicators, pointing out that just 15% of drivers said they use their indicators every time. He said that research found that 25% of drivers said they didn’t used their indicators because no one else did, so they feared that using an indicator would make them appear inexperienced. Drivers also said they were too busy concentrating on other drivers to use their indicators.

Speeding was the second major contributor to road deaths in the region, with 67% of drivers saying they drove fast because they were late, 53% adding they sped to impress other drivers, with 45% saying it was just habit.

Thomas said, ‘We’re trying to understand the reasons for bad behaviours in the car, and to address them. Why do drivers speed? If they are speeding because they are late, why not simply start leaving 10 minutes earlier? What’s the worst that will happen? You will get to your destination 10 minutes early.’

The third biggest factor in road deaths was the use of mobile phones while driving. Just over a quarter (26%) said they never used their handsets while driving

Another staggering statistic is that just 11% of passengers use their seatbelts in the backseat of cars, while Thomas quoted a report that found 60% of road deaths in Abu Dhabi were a result of people not wearing seatbelts.

‘It’s madness,’ he said. ‘It’s such a simple change yet it could make such a significant difference.’

Thomas urged delegates to spread the key messages within their companies, insisting that changing small habits behind the wheel could have a big impact.