UAE haulers failing to meet road safety standards, experts say

Large numbers of UAE companies are using commercial vehicles that fail to meet basic road safety standards, experts said. Worn or under-inflated tyres are common causes of traffic accidents, and have led to two fatalities in recent weeks. The Ministry of Interior said burst tyres - caused by excessive wear - were responsible for 100 deaths in the country last year.

In total, their poor maintenance resulted in 785 accidents and 1,130 injuries over the same period, official figures showed. "The problem is the facility management [teams] at many companies are cost-conscious and rely on the cheapest possible labour," said Saleh Jafar, president of Gulf for YASA, a road safety group. "There is no minimum wage in the UAE and some companies are able to significantly undercut the competition even though their standards are dangerously low.

"I've heard of cases where companies switch the tyres on vehicles before they go for inspection. Once they've passed the test they switch the tyres back again to the old ones." In July this year, the Federal Traffic Council, which governs traffic laws in the UAE, launched an awareness campaign warning motorists of the dangers of driving with poorly maintained tyres.

Last week, an accident on Dubai's Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road killed two people and injured four after a lorry tyre exploded. "It's extremely dangerous to have commercial vehicles such as lorries on the roads here with tyres that aren't safe," Mr Jafar said. "There are conditions like the heat and the long -distances that require them to be absolutely up to a safe standard," he said.

This week, one UAE -transport company highlighted the behaviour of companies that were putting cost-cutting above safety. "Safety processes and equipment cost money and it is -difficult to compete with other fleet operators who do not make safety their priority," said Shivananda Baikady, general manager of transport and warehousing at Tristar, a haulage company with more than 1,700 vehicles on the region's roads. "They cut corners when it comes to vehicle maintenance and other safety features.

"Inadequately maintained vehicles are the real hazards on the road for other road users. It also creates an unsafe work environment for the people who are driving those vehicles." Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zafeen, chairman of the FTC, said it was vital for public safety that tyres are properly maintained. "They need to be maintained regularly, there is no doubt, especially on lorries where you can have 12 tyres on a vehicle," he said.

"If just one of them is not at the right pressure, it can cause the vehicle to lose balance.

"Sometimes an accident can be the fault of another driver completely, so it's important to drive defensively and expect the unexpected."

Updated: December 21, 2019 06:54 PM

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