A social problem is an undesirable condition or situation in a community in terms of its relationship to the community's perceptions regarding people's life. While some situations such as murder and deaths due to drunken driving are universal social problems, the perception of some social problems varies amongst diverse groups of people and cultures. For example, while teenagers may consider playing loud music as a normal behavior, adults may consider loud music as an undesirable social issue. Similarly, views on smoking and use of alcohol as social problems vary in different social and cultural settings. This study would rely on primary and secondary research methods to gain an extensive insight into the issue of car accidents as a social problem in the UAE. The primary research methods would comprise of questionnaires and semi-formal interviews with victims of road accidents from the selected households. On the other hand, the secondary research would utilize data from organizations such as the WHO, Ministry of Interior and UAE Traffic Departments, which engages in the monitoring of traffic offenses, books, magazines and internet sources.
Medical experts attribute the numerous cases of brain injuries in Abu Dhabi to road accidents, which police claim to cause an average of two deaths every day. UAE doctors claim that road accidents have greatly strained medical resources and are calling for the establishment of specialized units that can respond quickly to the neurosurgical demands of the victims of car crashes. Surveys from hospitals' trauma registries illustrate that head and other injuries related to car accidents are responsible for about 37 percent of the mortality rate in the UAE, which is one of the highest in the world (Bell, 2013). Apart from the strain on medical and financial resources during treatment, a significant number of the victims get disabilities, which require their enrollment inexpensive and lengthy rehabilitation programs. Studies at various UAE hospitals illustrate that car accidents are responsible for about 67 percent of the cases of head injury. A comparison of the deaths related to car accidents in the UAE and UK shows that a UAE resident is seven times more likely to die in a car accident compared to a resident of UK. Except in 2009, deaths due to car accidents have been on an upward trend in the UAE. Traffic police attribute the decline in 2009 to intensified road patrols, installation of speed cameras and the adjustments of the Federal Traffic Law to set stringent penalties. Statistics shows that more than half of children deaths in the UAE result from road accidents because of the failure to restrain children passengers.
Surveys show that majority of the road accidents in the UAE occur due to reckless and careless driving which experts consider as a reversible phenomenon through education on proper driving. In Abu Dhabi, drivers between the ages of 18 and 30 years caused more than half of the recorded road accidents between 2009 and 2012. Details on the nature of accidents caused by the 18-30 age group illustrate that most drivers caused accidents through swerving (Taher, 2013). Abu Dhabi police attribute the second cause of road accidents to the lack of attention and negligence by the drivers. Data from the Traffic Coordination Department shows that the failure to maintain the recommended safe distance between vehicles was the third cause of road accidents. Other behaviors attributed to the high number of road accidents include running of red lights and inappropriate switching of lanes. Between 2006 and 2011, traffic police in Abu Dhabi issued an estimated 21 million penalties on reckless driving which translates to about 9,500 penalties daily. In evaluating the costs of road accidents in the UAE, measurement of the direct financial costs should incorporate aspects such as life insurance, individuals' average income and the age. Calculation of the economic impacts of road accidents in the UAE between 2009 and 2011 illustrates that about 17 billion Emirati Dirham, which amounts to 1.6 percent of the UAE Gross National Product, was lost.
An analysis of the WHO data on road accidents indicates that about 3000 people die every day through road accidents in various parts of the world. Furthermore, the organization estimates the economic impacts of road accidents at about 600 billion dollars, which arise due to the destruction of infrastructure and public and private properties. The economic and socio-psychological costs of car accidents require the enactment and amendment of laws that will discourage dangerous driving. The introduction of systems such as the traffic point, monitoring systems and remotely controlled traffic will minimize cases of dangerous driving. The Ministry of Interior and Traffic Departments in the UAE have embarked on campaigns to raise awareness on the road menace and encourage the public the need to adhere to traffic rules which not only protect the self but also other people. The cooperation between drivers and the traffic police on maintaining road sanity through the reporting of various traffic violations is an aspect of social responsibility that every person in the UAE should become a participant. The socio-psychological costs of car accidents related to the loss of family breadwinners and productivity due to disabilities whose burden families and the society must bear considering the requirements for special care, transport and other special facilities such as schools (Bartley, 2008).
- Bartley, G. P. (2008), Traffic accidents: causes and outcomes. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
- Bell, J. (2013). Road accidents account for nearly 70% of brain injuries at Al Ain Hospital | The National. Road accidents account for nearly 70% of brain injuries at Al Ain Hospital | The National.
- Taher, N. A. (2013). Abu Dhabi: Half of all road accidents caused by those aged 18-30 from 2009-2012. Newsletter.