AD Police take to social media to spread road safety messages

A campaign by UAE Together targets lorry and heavy vehicle drivers using the hashtag #BuildNotDestroy on Facebook and Twitter
Lorry drivers are being targeted in Abu Dhabi Police's latest road safety social media campaign. Stephen Lock / The National
Lorry drivers are being targeted in Abu Dhabi Police's latest road safety social media campaign. Stephen Lock / The National

ABU DHABI // Drivers of lorries and other heavy vehicles have been urged to take care on the roads as part of a social-media campaign implemented by Abu Dhabi Police.

This month, a traffic safety awareness campaign by UAE Together targets heavy vehicle drivers using the hashtag #BuildNotDestroy on Facebook and Twitter.

UAE Together is an initiative by Abu Dhabi Police to reduce crashes and improve road safety by spreading traffic awareness and education.

The new campaign “engages drivers of trucks and heavy vehicles, particularly those in the construction industry, reminding them that their role is to build and not to demolish lives through accidents,” according to UAE Together.

“Let’s build together a road-safety base among people and avoid destruction and traffic crashes,” read a Facebook post on July 1.

“Overloading your truck could overload innocent families with the burden of losing loved ones. You build, not destroy,” read a tweet shared on Facebook on July 3.

UAE Together also tweeted a message cautioning drivers against speed-related crashes: “Some truck drivers speed to meet their deadlines, but it’s better to be late than to be ‘the late’. You build, not destroy.”

A campaign in April encouraged drivers to give way to pedestrians, and was followedby another that spread the message that traffic safety was the responsibility of all.

Last month, UAE Together launched the Respect my Road Knowledge campaign, which encourages labourers unfamiliar with rules to adopt them for their own safety,

“Social-media campaigns do raise overall awareness of certain issues,” said Dino Kalivas, chairman of the driver education and training committee at the International Road Federation (IRF).

“However, the use of such technology must be vigilant in ensuring that messages delivered are based on researched information. In the context of road safety, often the message received is not the outcome. The subsequent behaviour change of the message and how this translates to safer driver behaviour is paramount.”

To maximise behaviour change from media-driven campaigns, the message must be “simple, relevant to people’s everyday lives and meaningful”, he said.

Brendan Halleman, IRF’s deputy project director, said it could be an effective campaign “provided it is coordinated with professional fleet operators and their industry associations”.

A new international standard, ISO 39001, was recently adopted and defines the dos and don’ts of traffic safety and raises the bar for all transport operators.

“With truck drivers as the target audience, complementing media need to be considered,” said Thomas Edelmann, founder of the website Road Safety UAE. “The aim is to reach as many truck drivers as possible – it can be through flyers, outdoor signposts and radio ads in Hindi, Urdu and Arabic.”

The number of patrols on the roads will be increased to better monitor traffic and provide drivers with traffic safety tips, Brig Hussain Al Harthi, director of Abu Dhabi Police Traffic Patrols Directorate said last month.

He asked motorists to observe the speed limits on motorways, set at 140kph for light vehicles and 80kph for lorries and other heavy vehicles.

“Drivers of heavy vehicles in the UAE tend to be more disciplined in staying in the slow lane and observing speed limits,” Mr Kalivas said. “However, drivers in passenger cars often make unpredictable lane changes and do not understand that a heavy vehicle requires significantly more stopping distance because of its heavy load.”

Sherabad, a 40-year-old Pakistani lorry driver who has lived in the UAE for 16 years, said he normally followed the 80kph speed limit on motorways. “But if I don’t see a camera, I drive up to 100kph,” he said. “I stay in the right lane and do not overtake.”

rruiz@thenational.ae

Published: July 11, 2014 04:00 AM

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