This article is based on a tragic road accident that occurred on United Arab Emirates most used and busiest highway on May 11, 2008. The accident was the biggest ever seen on the highway and caused a vehicle snarl up for over five hours. The accident caused three fatalities but 137 people sustained injuries with 6 being critical, 39 having medium afflictions, and the remaining sustained minor injuries. The accident scene was horrific with 25 cars catching fire, the police report, they blamed the accident on two things, one natural, that is the thick fog on the road, and the other human, that is , the lack of keenness, and attention by the motorists plying the highway. A stretch of about 25 kilometers of the highway had to be cordoned off for over five hours, to allow rescue and evacuation teams to move in and help the situation. Having occurred during the rush hour, the accident caused a huge tailback of traffic.
The geographic location of the accident scene is along the Abu Dhabi-Ghatoot highway, between the Bahia and Ghantoot bridges, which runs parallel to the Persian sea coastline. The population affected is the commuters plying the highway to and from Abu Dhabi towards Ghantoot. As described above, the casualties in the accident were 5 lives, 6 critically injured, 39 medium injured, and the rest sustained minor injuries.
The accident horrifically involved 60 cars translating to over $ 1 million in damage caused on the vehicles involved in the accident. The accident could have caused a similar amount of revenue in delays in deliveries and deadlines missed as a result of the accident. The damage on infrastructure such as the burnt road can also be estimated at about $500,000. The other costs incurred include the facilities used for the rescue mission which could be estimated at $30000. Lastly, and most significantly, the cost of the lives lost in the disaster cannot be estimated in any monetary way. It is so sad that motorist carelessness could have caused such a painful event.
The critical infrastructure affected was the Abu Dhabi to Ghantoot highway which is a busy highway linking Abu Dhabi to the North Eastern part of Dubai. The infrastructure sustained damages though the rummages of the vehicles on the guard rails, the burning of the asphalt in the fire that alit 20cars. The fire was detrimental to the road signage which could have been completely burnt. The other damage on the road was the markings crucial for highways such as this. It is noteworthy that the road’s foundation or support integrity was not tampered with.
The Dubai authorities were quite commendable in the personnel and resources allocated for the accident. Lieutenant General Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s Interior minister reported that the coordinated effort of government agency officials helped to limit the fatalities that could have arisen. These crews include the ambulance department crew that helped not only to save life but to return operations on the highway. Other crews include the Air Wing helicopters deployed to air lift injured motorists, and fire engines dispatched to quell the blaze. Colonel Osman Al Tamimi, Dubai’s Director of the Emergency and Safety Management department of the Abu Dhabi Police signifies that the center received calls of alarm that morning between the two bridges Bahia and Ghantoot facing Dubai. Government agencies taking part in the rescue mission include the Dubai Police, the Armed forces and the highway traffic patrols.
These officials worked in earnest to rush those injured to nearby hospitals for treatment and to quell the blaze sparked by the pile up. According to officials, given the magnitude of the incident, the road was reopened in record time; it leaves members of the public to wonder if 5 hours record time is.
There are a couple could of measures I would put in place along the highway in a period of 72 hours if I was in charge. Foremost, as is recorded the information collected shows that the distress calls arrived via mobile phone, this could be improved by mounting highway incident monitoring technologies along the highway. It is critical to also note that the magnitude of the pile up is attributed to the high speed that motorists were cruising under bad weather. It is important to undertake a public education campaign on over speeding.
The priorities of events that I will undertake to avert the situation include the installation of speed bumps at selected points of heavy fogging along the high way, proper signage is also important to install on the highway. The disaster reporting telecommunication based system is crucial as it will better the energy crew response times. The fourth priority is educating members of the public on the ills of over speeding during foggy early morning. It is important to preach for vigilance and carefulness from drivers. This is because the accident occurred because everyone was speeding under the severe weather conditions. Safe driving crusades are also important as it can be seen that the drivers did not keep safe distance from each other hence the pile up.
The government’s Ministry of Interior and the Emergency response teams would play a crucial role in the process as they would authorize funding of campaigns for public sanity on the road and the funds for putting up of signage and bumps the media is a crucial party of vending information to the public and will play a crucial role. It is expected that such incidences will not occur again and in the event of such occurrence the emergency teams and response agencies will be more prepared
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