By Afkar Abdullah and Olivia Olarte www.khaleejtimes.com
Deaths and injuries from traffic accidents have been reduced considerably, said officials at the start of the 27th GCC Traffic Week on Sunday.
Traffic deaths in the UAE reduced considerably from 966 in 2009 to 826 last year, or 10.03 fatalities for every 100,000 population, disclosed Brigadier Ghaith Hassan Al Zaabi, from Traffic Coordination division at the Ministry of Interior (MoI) on Sunday. Traffic accidents also registered a significant reduction of 21 per cent, from 9,658 in 2009 to 7,642 in 2010 while major traffic injuries reduced by 20.41 per cent from 11,541 cases in 2009 to 9,157 last year.
“Our goal is to eventually reduce the number of traffic deaths to 1.5 for every 100,000 population,” said Brig Al Zaabi. He urged the community to participate in ‘reducing traffic accidents together’ by obeying traffic rules and regulations.
Citing the comprehensive strategy implemented by the Abu Dhabi Police to manage speed on major arterial roads particularly those leading towards the city of Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region, Brigadier Hussain Al Harthi, Director at Traffic and Patrols Directorate, noted an eight per cent decrease in total deaths in the emirate, from 409 in 2009 to 376 in 2010, and 17 per cent reduction of severe injuries, from 483 in 2009 to 400 last year.
Major General Mohammed Al Awadi Al Menhali, Director-General of Police Operations at the Abu Dhabi Police also called up on motorists to refrain from using mobile phones while driving. He stressed on the importance of using safety belts, children under the age of 10 sitting at the back of a car, and the need for safe tyres. He called on all segments of society, especially students, to check on all traffic awareness events happening across Abu Dhabi for the whole week. The events are aimed at raising traffic safety culture, he added. Brig Al Zaabi noted that the MoI has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Education (MoE) to include traffic safety education in the school curriculum.
Several traffic awareness and educational activities will be held simultaneously at separate locations across the emirate during the entire week. Information material and safety guides are also being distributed at host venues.
New thoughts Engineer Maitha bin Edai, CEO of the Dubai’s RTA Traffic and Roads Agency said the programme comprises new thoughts addressing various targeted segments of the community. During the week, the Traffic and Roads Agency will honour winners of the traffic education movie contest ‘Your Safety in Your Distance’ launched by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) last December for students of universities and colleges in Dubai. “During this week, RTA will transmit awareness messages through Spacetoon television channel to continue five times a day for five weeks. These messages focus on the safety measures needed when riding a bicycle, the use of safety belt in vehicle, avoiding playing near buses and stressing the importance of crossing roads from the designated passenger crossing points,” added Maitha. Maitha added that the year’s events will target RTA employees through an educative lecture about the importance of the child’s seat in the vehicle. Attention to child’s safety will not be restricted to RTA employees but will also include mothers at Al Wasl Hospital.
“Coordination is in hand with several strategic partners including local departments and government agencies as well as schools in Dubai to take part in the diverse events held by the Traffic Department at Nadd Al Hamar School titled ‘Kullunna Tawieya’ during the period March 14 to 16,” Maitha added.
Awareness campaignsIn Sharjah, the Director-General of Sharjah Police launched the activities of the traffic week at the traffic and licensing department. He said the police were working together with residents to bring down traffic fatalities.
Police figures showed that there had been 179 road fatalities in 2008. The number decreased to 152 in 2009 and 140 in 2010. “Our roads are getting safer day by day,” he said. “ We have had several awareness campaigns, traffic patrols and inspections, fined violators and distributed radars on most roads, all to help save peoples’ lives on the roads and am happy to tell you that it was working.”
Driving institute Meanwhile, the Ajman Police are planning to launch a government driving institute in the emirate to help improve the standard of new drivers on the emirates roads. The announcement was made by Col. Shaikh Sultan bin Abdullah al Nuaimi, Deputy-Director of the Ajman Police during the launch of the traffic week which will end on March 17. “The new institute would prepare drivers both theoretically and practically to be good drivers,” he said. “We are already in the final stages of negotiations and agreements with a big international driving school that would be our partners.” He said the institute would work closely with private institutes in the emirate. Sharjah already has a government institute along side private ones.
In Fujairah, the week was opened at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development’s office.
Safe Driving Begins At Home
- Parents should be a role model for children; they are watching
- Educate children to respect the law and others’ properties
- Explain the serious consequences of the wrong behaviours while driving
- Spell out the school bus golden rules to children
a. Take ten steps away from the bus after getting down
b. Wait until the bus leaves, then cross the road safely
c. Go straight home
- While waiting for the school bus, under-age children or students’ younger siblings should stay away from the bus stop
- Do not permit children to put their heads and hands outside the car windows or sunroof
- Children below 10 years should sit at the back seat.
- Always fasten seat belts even if it is for a short drive