Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Counting the cost

A propos Bavaria, where my previous post ended. The German state world-famous for the annual Oktoberfest comprises 70,500 sq km and has a population of 11.6 million. Some of last year's traffic deaths, of which there were 995, can certainly be attributed to over-indulgence in beer, wine and spirits.

Now we learn that in the Sandlands the DUI (driver-under-the-influence) will soon receive very much tougher punishment. Arabian Business has details:

Drink-driving motorists face harsher penalties, including heavy fines and imprisonment, under new UAE federal traffic laws to be introduced on March 1, a traffic official warned on Saturday. Ghaith Hassan Al Zaabi, director of the Traffic Department at the Ministry of Interior, said motorists who drive under the influence of alcohol will be fined at least 20,000 dirhams ($5,446), and jailed, UAE daily Khaleej Times reported on Sunday. The stricter penalties follow news that 1,053 people were killed in UAE road accidents during 2007, compared to 868 deaths due to accidents in 2006.

It is interesting to note that the deaths in the UAE number hardly 10% more than in Bavaria, which is occupies an area only slightly smaller than the 83,600 sq km of the Emirates.

But, and it's a big but, the UAE has a population of only 4.4 million which indicates that the nation's highways are very perilous places to venture forth.

However, all is not lost. The new, harsh treatment of UAE offenders may have the desired effect. It should be noted that here in Germany the national death toll (including the Bavarian fatalities) this year was 4,970, the lowest figure since record keeping began in 1953, and just a quarter of the murderous death toll of the year 1970.

Now in the Sandlands there is justifiable pride in the speed with which come targets are reached. Let's see how quickly the highway deaths can be reduced to just a quarter of today's alarming statistics. It need not take thirty-eight years

1 comment:

Keefieboy said...

I'm not convinced that alcohol plays much of a part in the carnage on UAE roads. But in the light of this announcement I am super-glad not to be having to drive there anymore!