Tuesday, May 20, 2014

UAE Together safety campaign urges more respect for pedestrians

UAE Together safety campaign urges more respect for pedestrians
Ramona Ruiz

ABU DHABI // Road safety experts have welcomed a call for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to have greater respect on the roads.
The Twitter and Facebook accounts of UAE Together have been inundated with road safety messages using the hashtags #Pedestriansfirst and #ShareTheRoad.

UAE Together is a campaign by Abu Dhabi Police to educate the public about traffic rules and regulations, and the need to look out for each other.

“This is brilliant because it is so true,” said Thomas Edelmann, founder of website Road Safety UAE, of the ShareTheRoad tag.

“The one simple way to get rid of all our traffic woes is to treat others like you want to be treated. We have to drive with each other, not against each other.”

All motorists, he said, must remind themselves that they are also pedestrians the moment they step out of their cars.

Brendan Halleman, deputy project director at International Road Federation in the US, was equally enthusiastic.

“Sharing the road is exactly the right message,” Mr Halleman said. “After all, everyone is a pedestrian at some point in the day.”

Worldwide, more than half of all those killed in crashes are pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists, he said.

Of the 63 traffic-related deaths in Abu Dhabi in the first three months of this year, 33 were caused by vehicle crashes, 22 pedestrians were killed and eight people died after the cars they were travelling in overturned.

Most fatal accidents were caused by drivers not giving priority to pedestrians crossing roads, sudden swerving, speeding in unstable road conditions, burst tyres and tailgating, said traffic police chief Brig Gen Hussain Al Harithi.

The road safety initiative also asks drivers to slow down “as a pedestrian may pop out of nowhere”.

It reminds motorists that they share the road with other users and that “traffic safety is everyone’s responsibility”.

“Simple as this: cars on roads, pedestrians on sidewalks and cyclists on cyclists’ lanes. #Sharetheroad,” read another tweet.

Residents were invited to share their thoughts under the hashtag, and asked to reply “yes” or “no” on Facebook if they felt a lack of respect between road users was the reason behind accidents.

“Motorists are self-centred and even oblivious to pedestrians who use designated zebra crossings,” said Roshanara Sait, director of Ciel Marketing and Events, which organises road safety awareness campaigns across the country.

UAE Together also tweeted hard-hitting messages such as “Road users have equal rights, respect my rights #ShareTheRoad” and “The road belongs to everyone. It’s road safety, not rocket science. #ShareTheRoad”.

Ramesh Menon, an Abu Dhabi resident for 25 years, said pedestrians should also be aware of their surroundings.

“In Abu Dhabi and Dubai, I have seen pedestrians showing little respect for their own safety while crossing the road in a hurry,” Mr Menon said.

Ms Sait proposed sustainable road safety campaigns to raise awareness and highlight the dangers for both pedestrians and the motorists.

“Pedestrians in the UAE are still uneducated as far as their safety is concerned,” Mr Menon said.


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