How to foster respect for the law of the land

Before the average person will respect the law, he or she has to understand it.

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ABU DHABI // Before the average person will respect the law, he or she has to understand it. Or so believes the Ministry of Interior, which is establishing an office to educate people about the law and encourage them to respect it. The Respect of the Law Office will focus on a selected number of crimes that are widespread. These include fraud and traffic offences such as overtaking and tailgating. It will also educate motorists on the importance of giving way to ambulances.

"People tend to be unaware of the urgency of ambulance vehicles and would often refuse to move out of their way," said Major Gen Nasser al Naimi, the director general of the Minister of Interior's office. "They don't understand. They don't have awareness that there is an injured person who has to be hospitalised very quickly." The office, he said, will use schools to educate students about the law from an early age, and will also launch a broader media campaign.

"The idea came after we noticed a lack of awareness of the law on the part of the public," he said. "Sometimes when we arrest someone, we find out that he wasn't aware of the law in the first place. We believe that the more we make people aware of the law, the more they will respect it. "People should be aware that the law exists for them, not against them. It is to protect them at the end of the day."

Sometimes, Gen al Naimi said, people were aware of the law but did not completely understand its significance. "For example," he said, "why would someone in the middle of the night stop at a traffic light when it is red even when there are no cars around? Why would they not just ignore it and drive on? "They are actually aware of the existence of the law, but they don't fully understand it. It is not very clear to them, so the aim is to show them the complete picture."

The ministry will also focus on tailgating, a major cause of accidents. "If someone is blocking the movement of your car, you can't go either to the left or to the right," Gen al Naimi said. Leaving enough space, he said, will give drivers the chance to avoid an accident. Officials who will work for the office have already toured the US, the UK, Singapore and Australia to "gain from the experiences of those countries".

The office will promote its campaign through the media, and organise lectures and hand out brochures on the law. * The National