DUBAI // Police are to intensify pedestrian safety efforts after a surge in traffic deaths in the last half of March.
There were 15 traffic deaths in the final 15 days of last month - compared with just 12 in the first two months of the year. So far this month four people have died in traffic accidents.
The death coincided with warnings from the weather centre for drivers to slow down because of poor visibility from sandstorms.
There was an overall drop in the number of deaths to 27 in the first quarter of this year, compared with 36 in the same period last year.
But the head of the Dubai Police traffic department, Maj Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zaffein, called the figures dramatic and worrying.
Gen Al Zaffein said deaths of pedestrians were the biggest source of concern to police, as they had been involved in a third of all road accidents last year. He said that the campaign Cross Safely would be relaunched on Sunday.
The campaign involves officers giving seminars on road safety to schoolchildren and labourers.
Police will also intensify patrols to catch jaywalkers, who will be fined Dh200.
Jaywalking accounted for both of the pedestrian deaths in January, and 1,900 people were fined for the offence in that month alone.
The campaign runs throughout the year, but Maj Gen Al Zaffein said the latest statistics meant it needed to be strengthened by boosting both the number of seminars and patrols on the street.
"The problem is that there is a category of people who are deaf to any advice. They simply do not listen regardless of any campaign," said Maj Gen Al Zaffein, who added that many of the deaths in March could easily have been avoided.
"A death from a car overturning on Emirates Road last month could have been avoided by the person wearing a seat belt," he said. "The death of a 16-year-old cyclist hit by a car could have been avoided if he did not cycle on the main road as if he was cycling in a park."
A 17-year-old youth died yesterday after being hit by a car which veered off the main road and into a side alley in the Muhaisnah area of Dubai. A Dubai Police CID spokesperson said the driver of the vehicle collided with a parked car on a main road after losing control, and proceeded to plough into three men standing in the alley. One of the men, an Arab national, died after reaching hospital. The other two sustained moderate injures. The driver, also from an Arab country, told police there was a technical fault with the car's pedals and the vehicle has been sent for testing. The man, in his 50s, has been referred to the public prosecution.
The other three deaths this month all happened on Tuesday, according to Salah Bu Farousha, the head of traffic prosecution.
In one, a 23-year-old Pakistani lost control of his vehicle on Al Rabat Street and swerved into the oncoming traffic on the other side of the road. He died instantly, while the driver of another vehicle involved was taken to Rashid Hospital, suffering what were described as "moderate" injuries.
An unidentified man was killed on Al Ittihad Road when he was hit by a car driven by a 30-year-old Pakistani, while a 25-year-old motorbike rider from Bangladesh died after jumping a red light in Al Barsha and hitting a vehicle driven by a 27-year-old compatriot.
More than 300 road accidents involving pedestrians were reported last year. Forty-six pedestrians were killed and 42 seriously injured. Of the 46 deaths, 41 were caused by jaywalking. Police also fined 37,484 jaywalkers, according to Dubai Police.