Bus and lorry drivers learn about road safety during training session

The first batch of 200 lorry, minivan and school bus drivers received a two-hour training session on defensive driving at the Roads and Transport Authority’s Al Aweer Depot on Tuesday.

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DUBAI // Mohammed Diyar, a bus driver at a special-needs centre, has learnt the importance of keeping a safe distance between vehicles, buckling up at all times and how to avoid crashes.

The Pakistani, with 10 years of driving experience, was on Tuesday among the first batch of 200 lorry, minivan and school bus drivers to receive a two-hour training session on defensive driving at the Roads and Transport Authority’s Al Aweer Depot.

“It is good for drivers to be updated regularly on driving techniques,” said Mr Diyar, 32, who travels about 200 kilometres every day to pick up and drop children at Al Noor Training Centre.

“We are properly trained for the job but it is good to be reminded to keep a safe distance from other vehicles.”

About 500 drivers are expected to take part in the free workshops, conducted by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, a non-profit body that raises awareness of road safety worldwide.

The workshops, organised by UAE company Tristar Transport, come a month after 13 workers were killed in a horrific bus crash on Emirates Road last month.

The labourers were travelling from their accommodation in Umm Al Quwain to Jebel Ali on May 10 when their bus crashed into a stationary lorry.

Organisers said the purpose of the workshops was to minimise accidents.

“We are targeting the heavy vehicle drivers community in the UAE to improve road safety,” said Eugene Mayne, chief executive of Tristar Group.

“As an oil and gas logistics company, we are conscious of the potential consequences of an incident involving road tankers transporting flammable products.”

Mr Mayne said the programme would be rolled out across the Arabian Gulf region.

He said Tuesday’s workshop was conducted in English to help RTA trainers become accustomed to it, but the rest of the sessions will be in Hindi or Urdu.

Although trainers urged them to take breaks when tired, drivers said there were few rest stops in the UAE.

“We need more parking areas where we can pull over to check our tyres and rest for a few minutes before we resume our journey again,” said Mario Espinoza, 54, who drives trailers for Oman Transport.

“The Abu Dhabi Truck Road has one park and rest area and there is a new one on Emirates Road, but we need more.”

This month, the RTA opened its first rest area, on Emirates Road about five kilometres before the exit to Al Ain, for 30 lorries.

It plans to open 24 more across Dubai emirate, with clinics, shops and petrol stations.

Mr Espinoza said rules for heavy vehicles at roundabouts could cause accidents.

“We are being asked to stay on the extreme right lane, even if we have to turn left or make a U-turn,” he said. “Driving schools teach us to be on the left but police fine us if we are not on the right lane.

“This is extremely dangerous for everyone as cars that want to turn right are on these lanes and we have to be very careful.”