Thursday, October 08, 2015

Let he who is without sin...

Dubai Police periodically publish statistics for traffic accidents in Dubai. The latest figures available are for 2013. Leaving aside that ‘accidents happen’ whereas ‘vehicle collisions are caused’, which is why the preferred term in the UK is ‘collision’, (although the Goat prefers ‘crash’ or even ‘prang’), let’s not get buried in semantics here. Local law requires that the police attend every vehicle incident however minor; the data collected should be comprehensive and reasonably accurate.

One of the tables is appallingly racist: a list of the numbers of accidents by 68 different nationalities of the accused driver. What we find is that in 2013, Pakistanis caused 373 accidents, Indians 315, and Emiratis 298. Further down the scale we learn that British drivers caused 20, Filipinos 18, and Canadians a mere six. So south Asians and locals apparently can’t drive. QED.

“But,” the Goat hears you protest, “There are so many more Indians in Dubai, therefore…”

Fair comment. The Goat actually found some figures for the demographics of nationalities in Dubai. Various uncited sources, because this is a blog and not a thesis, come up with several conflicting sets of figures, all broadly showing similar things:-

Dubai’s population in 2013 was around 2.11 million.
Around 340,000 are south Asians living in labour camps, and probably don’t drive.
Around 260,000 Emiratis.
Approximately 740,000; 340,000; 190,000 Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis respectively.
Filipinos make up some 61,000 of the population and “Britishers [sic]” a mere 11,000.
The “Others” comprise the remaining 168,000.

A widespread measure of risk is “per 100,000 population.” It’s generally perceived by the luminaries who keeps such scores that low scores represent better, or at least safer, drivers. Numbers of road deaths in the range of 5/100,000 population tend to be scored in the over-regulated and over-policed northern Europe, whereas across equatorial Africa scores of around 20 are more common. The worst one on the Goat’s list is Eritrea at 48.4/100,000.

Smeed’s Law (1949, based originally on 1938 data) relates traffic death rate to numbers of vehicles and population, and predicts around 24 for UK, which is almost the same result as Dubai in 2013. As the current figure of less than 4/100,000 it is possible to infer that British roads are safer than they were in the 1930s. Given seat belts, drink-drive legislation, decent brakes, headlights that actually work, tyres that grip, and frankly better roads, this isn’t rocket surgery, is it?

Anyhoo, by the measure of accidents per 100,000 population we learn that:-
  • The best drivers in Dubai are Filipinos, scoring 30;
  • Indians and Bangladeshis are next, with scores in the 40 to 45 range;
  • Emiratis and Pakistanis score a less impressive 110-115;
  • The British manage an atrocious 182;
  • The very worst drivers of all are these mysterious Others with a horrifyingly spectacular score of 270. 
Many countries don't require police attendance at damage-only crashes, and a lot of these can go unrecorded. International figures, Smeed's Law, and that stuff all concentrate on fatal accidents only. This morbid measure of deaths per 100,000 population shows us that:-
  • The best drivers in Dubai are Indians, Filipinos and Bangladeshis, scoring 2.6 to 3.8;
  • Emiratis and Pakistanis score a less impressive 9.5 to 12.0;
  • These mysterious Others have a horrifyingly spectacular score of 34.5...
And what of the British, we who cockily consider ourselves some of the best drivers in the world? The sun must get to us, because in Dubai we score an appalling 36.4: Brits drive ten times worse in Dubai than we do at home.

The elephant in the room is of course the absolute magnitude of the figures. Scoring 36 in Dubai when at home you score lower than four is rather like picking up the cleaner end of a turd. Unlike equatorial Africa, the Dubai fleet consists largely of new, modern vehicles with the latest in safety technology. Vehicles are subject to annual roadworthiness tests. Roads are of exceptionally high quality with road budgets far exceeding those of comparable UK highway authorities, and policing – especially through the use of red-light and speed enforcement cameras – is widespread.

The Goat will leave it to commentators and the Letters page of 7DAYS to come up with how this little corner of the world should be put to rights.



Gnomad said...

I suspect the high score for Brits is primarily due to culture shock. Driving in the UK one becomes used to a high standard of courtesy and competence from other drivers and it takes a lot of concentration and a real mental gear shift to get used to the lack of these two here in the gulf.

I also suspect that the reason for Filipinos doing so well is the exact opposite; the levels of competence and courtesy of drivers in the Philippines (in my experience of driving over there) are so appalling that driving in the Middle aeast comes as a refreshing change.

Being able to control a motor vehicle is only a very small part of being able to drive well. Unfortunately, it also appears to be the only part that is taught in many parts of the world

Anonymous said...

Are you sure about the number of Brits in Dubai being only 11K?
I've seen several sources which list the estimated number of Brits in the UAE in 2012 as being 240K, so only 11K in Dubai a year later makes no sense at all.
11,000 sounds more like the British headcount in Muscat than in Dubai.

Grumpy Goat said...

Well, Anonymous, a number like 250,000 would go a long way towards pushing the traffic deaths caused by Brits way down the pecking order. Trouble is, I found separate sources: states 3% of the population is, or at least in 2006 was, "westerners": fewer than 63,000. I found an article stating around 100,000 Brits in the entire UAE, and I also found the 250,000 figure.

In short, no I'm not sure of the 11,000 figure, but it came from a Dubai government website related to metro usage.

More research, perhaps? Probably, but this is a blog, not a thesis.

Mme Cyn said...

If it's deaths per hundred thousand of THAT population ( that is the proportion) then considering that MOST of the brits here drive and MOST of the Indian/ Pakstani/ etc population do NOT drive, then within their own populations, of course more Brits would have accidents than Indians. Unless that isnt how the figures are divided up, in which case, I can't believe the brits cause more accidents than the indians.

Grumpy Goat said...

I could hardly believe it either.

Then I did some additional research, discovered that most of this post is unmitigated orchilalia, and wrote 'You Know Nothing' as a result.


The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.