Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Abu Dhabi Police launch pedestrian safety drive

Abu Dhabi Police launch pedestrian safety drive 150 killed and almost 1000 run over last year By Nada Al Taher and Aghaddir Ali, Staff Reporters Published: 18:43 January 7, 2013

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Police launched the first road safety campaign for pedestrians in 2013 after reports that more than 150 people were killed and almost 1000 run over in accidents during the first 10 months of last year across the Emirates.

The number of deaths of pedestrians is almost double the 83 that were recorded in 2011.

According to Brigadier General Ghaith Hassan Al Zaabi, Director General of Traffic Coordination Department at the Ministry of Interior, people being run over constitutes 18.65 per cent of the total number of deaths and 15.35 per cent of traffic accidents in the UAE. Moreover, almost 30 per cent of injuries during the first 10 months of 2012 were caused by people being hit by vehicles, the official said in a statement.

So far, it is not clear whether or not pedestrian accidents have decreased from 2011 to 2012, but Dubai Police statements claim that being run over is the leading cause of road deaths in the Emirate. In 2012, Gulf News reported a 20.7 per cent reduction such incidents between January 1 and September 30, with 46 deaths reported compared to 58 over the same period in 2011.

The figures led many motorists to call for stricter penalties for jay-walkers.

“Frequently, pedestrians would jump from the side of the road on to a busy street and I would have to do my best to control my car and attempt to dodge them,” said Syrian driver and automobile valuation analyst Ahmad Zendaki. “The law in the UAE is strict on jay-walkers but is also harsh on the motorists who hit them until the pedestrian is proven guilty. Charging them heftier fines and building overpasses in areas where jay-walking is recurrent may help ease problems because they are endangering their own lives as well as others.”

Drivers travelling at 60km/h may not be able to stop in time if pedestrians appear a short distance (of a few metres) ahead, the director of the Dubai Police Traffic department told Gulf News.

Colonel Hamad Al Ameri, director of the Abu Dhabi Police Traffic and Patrol Directorate, said the reduction in people being run over in the capital was a result of the efforts of police officials in Abu Dhabi city, Al Ain and Al Gharbia (Western Region). Efforts in Dubai are also aiming to curb such accidents as the Dubai Police traffic department expressed its will to tighten penalties against offenders last year.

According to the Federal Traffic Law’s article 7, those who cross the street from undesignated areas will be fined Dh200. Similarly, motorists who do not give priority to pedestrians on zebra crossings will also be fined Dh500 and six black points, according to Al Zaabi. 

The official said that crossing the road from non-designated areas and drivers’ not giving pedestrians road priority are dangerous traffic offences, therefore it is vital, he said, that road users become more aware on topics relating to pedestrian-safety.

Al Zaabi also explained that there are basic rules that both motorists and pedestrians should abide by and that cooperation between both groups is essential in ensuring a safe road environment. The Ministry of Interior launched the awareness campaign titled Pedestrian Safety is Our Responsibility as an initiative to improve overall road safety. The campaign will continue until March.

My comments as follows:

Congratulations to Abu Dhabi authorities for initiating this campaign at the beginning of a new year. Indeed, “Pedestrian Safety is Our Responsibility” and each road user has to constantly remind themselfves of this. There are several heavy usage sectors like Abu Dhabi Mall, Hamdan Street and Airport Road where one will get to see violators at any given point of day or night. How many hours the authorities can man these roads by policing in uniform or not is a question once again to the general public. The rate of accidents have reduced due to strict laws. However, general awareness campaigns showing the consequences to undergo as an accident victim, either as a pedestrian or as a driver involved should be highlighted repeatedly. The recovery time, the legal proecss, etc are too long and harsh when compared to a few minutes of delay taken to follow the path at designated areas. Let us all support the authorities by following the road safety rules strictly. Community Organisations and companies should educate and remind members and staff on a regular basis the importance of road safety in tandem with Police support.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS online.

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