Fundamentals of road safety have been in the public domain since man started using roads for transport. Traffic accidents have a tremendous effect on the lives of individuals as well as the overall cost of road maintenance and repair in the economy. These losses call for a concerted effort to increase road safety campaigns so as to reduce the number of lives lost in road carnage. Buckle up! Is a call for everyone who wishes to avoid the consequences of neglecting road safety measures. Buckle up!
That is what we are always told every time we are flagged down by the police. The know-it-all attitude and our self conscious attitude has never allowed us to fully realize that buckling up can sometimes be the only decisive factor between life and death in horrific accidents. The papers were fresh with screaming titles about the horrific accident that occurred on the Abu Dhabi highway near Ghantoot. The crash pile up of more that two fifty vehicles, the screams, the blazing flames, death and injuries were unimaginable.
The scene was reminiscent of of a blockbuster horror movie, utterly unreal yet unfolding in not only one of the best highways but also the busiest twenty five kilometer highway connecting Abu Dhabi to Dubai. Thirty seven people were injured, six of them critically and thirty nine sustained medium injuries. The blazing twenty five vehicles and the poor visibility was not an attractive sight either. Were it not for the excellent rescue, that early morning accident could have led to uncountable deaths. The death toll stood at three but one more person died while undergoing treatment.
The armed forces , the Dubai police and the many support teams organized an excellent rescue system where the injured were rushed to the nearest hospitals. This horrific pile up was later blamed on the over speeding in the poor weather. It was very early in the morning , I had left my husband in the house at our Al Rhabha apartment to catch a taxi to Dubai International airport. The call was strange, the caller barely hissing through. He didn’t know what was happening. Then a more audible voice boomed through and informed to him that I had been airlifted by a life flight helicopter from the accident scene just minutes ago.
On my condition, the doctor could only tell my husband a single word “critical’. He rushed to the hospital and for the first time in his life he felt utterly confused and restless, he wasn’t even sure if I was going to die or live and to make it worse we had only been married for three months. What a misfortune! He thought. Was this going to be the worst experience in his life? Still unconscious, wreathed in bandages, pale and out in my own land, I could not even barely imagine the pain that engulfed my loved ones as they by lay vigil each night, thinking of my sorry picture with only breathing tubes to hang onto.
On the second day, I regained consciousness and began a hazy recollection of what happened. The successive bumps and crash. I could recall seeing the driver ram straight into the car in front, a second later I was flung head first into the driving seat almost unsitting the driver who nonchalantly pushed my head aside. The only other recollection is seeing flames and being suffocated by fumes of burning petrol. The accident left me with gruesome facial cuts, an upper broken jaw with six teeth less. In modern day United Arab Emirates, the causes such accidents are as varied as the number of accidents.
There are times when you can’t really blame anybody. Nobody expects a sudden thick fog during the rush hour, it was quite an unfortunate scenario but you dare not snarl in the highway because you could be the cause of another accident. The combination of reckless over confident drivers with such weather conditions only spells doom to the careful drivers who will slow down and ensure that there is sufficient space between his vehicle and the next but there is no knowing who might ram into your rear.
It is therefore an unwritten rule that one simple mistake like slowing down even in zebra crossings might result in traffic accident. Despite all these unwritten rules, you cannot surely escape being labelled a very stupid person if you drive at 120km/h in a silly thick fog. It is always the first car in the crash that causes the accident, whether he was driving beyond the police legal allowance, a copy of the many paper on the driving wheel or coffee on the other hand, the prerequisites to such traffic accidents are seen every day on our highways.
It gets even more harrowing when people drive while answering phone calls or when rich spoilt kids zoom at dangerous speeds in brand new SUVs. I was dispatched from the hospital after three intensive months of medical care. By slowly recollecting the past, trying to shift what might have caused the accident and what might have not, trying to find a rationale why as a passenger I had much more serious injuries than the driver who only escaped with minor injuries the answer to my stupid injuries hits me hard, Buckle up! : That was the difference between the driver and me.
Its even more hurting that I had to learn painful way. The seat belt usage is the savior if you are to be involved in such accidents. These are a very many road casualties that arise due to our refusal to buckle up. Presently the campaign “Your safety is in using safety Belt’ is helping people understand the importance of buckling up. Additionally, as we speak now heavy fines are being levied on those apprehended for not putting on their safety belts. This has come only after the realization that traffic accidents cause more deaths than murder and is only second to death caused by cardiovascular diseases.
The experience of accidents is harrowing, the survival chance is in guaranteed, and as more and more lunatic drivers are released onto our roads, the only savior is the seat belt. I have never been reminded to buckle up ever since, my scars are too huge to be ignored. Buckling up has become an innate predisposition to me. References New Initiative in IAHV’s Road Peace Campaign: ‘Buckle up Dubai’ <www. dubaishopping festival. com/news/IAHV11-09. htm> ‘Buckle up’ Drive Controls Violations of Seat Belt Rule. 2007<http:www. uaeinteract. com/docs>