ABU DHABI // Traffic was smooth yesterday as hundreds of thousands of pupils returned to school after the summer holidays.
Abu Dhabi Police increased patrols on roads around schools and at intersections to cut congestion and there were no reports of major accidents.
Rashid Al Muhairi, 44, who dropped off his son Khalifa, 10, at Al Nahda National School for Boys, off Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Street, at 7am, said the back-to-school traffic was much better than last year.
“I think the police are doing a great job,” he said.
“We got here in five minutes. I saw traffic patrols at many intersections to ensure safety and smooth flow of traffic.”
Mustafa Al Rumaithi, 47, set out on the school run earlier than normal from the family’s home in Al Shamkha, on the outskirts of the capital. He first took his 15-year-old daughter to Al Nahda School for Girls in Mushrif then went to the Al Nahda boy’s campus to drop off his sons, aged 7, 11 and 12.
“Traffic was heavy but moved smoothly and easily,” he said.
While traffic was generally smooth in Dubai, there were hold-ups on Sheikh Zayed Road with slow-moving traffic from Wafi Mall up to the Dubai Mall interchange, towards Abu Dhabi. Traffic also moved slowly from Mall of the Emirates up to The Dubai Mall interchange in the direction of Sharjah.
Motorists complained of delays at Business Bay around Emaar Square.
A minor accident was reported on the Dubai to Al Ain Road after the Academic City exit towards Dubai, while another was reported on Al Khail Road, near Dubai Mall, which caused some tailbacks.
Thomas Edelmann, founder of Road Safety UAE, urged parents to behave responsibly on the school run.
“This starts with proper time management, observing the speed limit, ensuring children are buckled up and parking safely around schools,” he said. “Parents should ensure children cross only at designated crosswalks.”
At one school in the capital on Sunday, At a nearby school, pupils were seen crossing the road from non-designated points on roads where vehicles were parked with haphazardly parked vehicles to the other side, where many vehicles were haphazardly parked.
“Sadly, the problem with irresponsible and selfish parents engaged in the school run is not unique to the UAE and I know many countries face the same issue,” said Phil Clarke, principal road safety consultant at the UAE’s Transport Research Laboratory, said: “What parents don’t seem to understand is that their irresponsible actions endanger their own children, as well as other people.”
Some countries, including the UK, have introduced school keep clear (SKC) zones, where cars are banned from even stopping to drop off or pick up children, he said.
“But the effectiveness of these depends upon the attitude of those drivers taking the children to and from school and, more importantly, the level of enforcement,” said Mr Clarke. “Therefore, any increased activity by the police in the vicinity of schools at the drop-off and pick-up times, even without any SKCs, has to be a good thing.”
A traffic awareness campaign, Together To Keep Our Children Safe, was recently launched by Abu Dhabi Police for to ensure the safety of children at the start of the new school term and to reduce traffic congestion and prevent accidents.
* Additional reporting by Naser Al Remeithi