Abu Dhabi Police to hand out iftars in bid to make capital's roads safer

Food and drink to be distributed at intersections in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Gharbia during the holy month

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ABU DHABI // Iftar meals will be distributed to motorists at major intersections in Abu Dhabi city throughout Ramadan to increase road safety, traffic police say.

Food will also be distributed in Al Ain and at the entrance to Al Gharbia, officials said.

The initiative is part of efforts to ensure the smooth flow of traffic on the roads, said Col Mohammad Rashid Al Shamsi, the head of traffic control with the Abu Dhabi Police.

Last Ramadan there were 52 accidents in the emirate, in which 42 people were hurt or killed.

Col Al Shamsi said patrols would be intensified around crowded areas in the holy month, including shopping centres, grocery stores and mosques.

Lorries and vehicles weighing more than 2.5 tonnes will not be permitted to enter the city from 7am to 9.30am, and 1pm to 3pm.

Motorists describe driving during Ramadan as a "frightening experience".

"I avoid it as much as I can, especially right before iftar," said Reem Shamoun, a Jordanian public relations manager. "People go crazy on the streets, speeding and driving in a reckless manner and cursing each other. It's insane."

Experts agree improper fasting can lead to increased aggression on the roads.

"At the best of times, driving is a risky behaviour," said Dolly Habbal, a clinical psychologist at the Gulf Diagnostic Centre.

"So imagine being on the streets with thousands of drivers, all hungry, tired, severe nicotine deprivation, and all trying to make their destination at the same minute."

But the factors that lead to risky driving behaviour, including fatigue, aggression and anxiety, can be avoided if people maintain a healthy fasting routine.

Sufficient sleep and daily exercise are especially important during this month, Dr Habbal said.

"These two strategies are strongly recommended as they help the brain secrete endorphins, which are considered important to reduce irritability and stress and enhance the mood," she said.

A proper diet during iftar and suhoor meals can help maintain energy levels for the following day and help drivers avoid fatigue, said Hala Abu Taha, a dietitian at Right-Bite.

"Our liver has reserves for glucose, which provides us with energy," Dr Abu Taha said. "So it's important that we always have enough glucose stored in the body."