Dubai Police issue stark road safety warning ahead of new school year

Thousands of extra vehicles will hit the roads on Sunday, often leading to a spike in accidents

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 30 AUGUST 2018. Press conference organised by Dubai Traffic Police, the Federal Traffic Council and the Ministry of Interior about back to-school traffic. Eng. Mohammed Saif AlZafeen leads the press conference. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Nawal Al Ramahi. Section: National.
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Police have issued a stark road safety warning to motorists as the country gears up for the start of the new school year.

Thousands of extra vehicles will hit the roads on Sunday as parents across the UAE attempt to ferry their children to class on time.

The huge increase in volume of traffic often leads to major congestion as well as a spike in numbers of accidents.

But authorities warned patrolling officers would be on hand to target those choosing to ignore road safety, putting innocent lives in danger.

“Children are particularly at risk as they’re driven to school on Sunday,” said Major General Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, assistant chief of Dubai Police.

“That’s why we’re launching this road safety campaign. We want to reach out to schools, bus drivers and parents to spread awareness about the type of bad driving which causes accidents.”

Across the Emirates this Sunday, more than half a million children will begin the new school year.

In Dubai, some 280,000 pupils from 182 nationalities will be dropped off at the school gates of close to 200 schools, while in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra, a further 241,000 children will make their way to class.

As part of efforts to police such a busy period, Maj Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen revealed more officers would be drafted in to monitor road networks.

He urged parent drivers to be more aware of pedestrian crossings outside schools, and not to let young children sit in the front passenger seat of cars.

Additionally, he announced a ban on the use of minibuses to take children to school, citing concerns over their safety record.

“Minibuses have long been an issue due to their low safety standards,” he said. “Parents must also take responsibility on Sunday and avoid parking outside congested school entrances making it difficult to see pedestrians.

“This is a critical point and it’s highly important for their children’s safety.”


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Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Maj Gen Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen went on to outline efforts to improve the road safety record of school buses.

He also said the number of tickets issued to motorists for unsafe driving in school zones last year was far too high, as was the number of instances where young children had been found sitting in the front passenger seat.

Figures released by the Federal Traffic Council (FTC) showed 473 school bus drivers were fined for ignoring stop signs in 2017.

A further 87 were reported for failing to use the stop sign indicator attached to sides of vehicles to alert passing motorists and more than 2,600 fines were issued to drivers with children in the front seat. “Discipline is a must for school bus drivers,” he added.

As authorities unveiled plans to improve road safety, parents of school children in Sharjah said they were dreading Sunday’s school run due to major roadworks in the Muwaileh area.

They claimed ongoing construction work combined with the first day of term would inevitably lead to tailbacks, gridlock and long delays.

One exit on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed road, which leads to schools in Sharjah’s Industrial area 13, has been closed to traffic. Another, on Al Dhaid road, has also been shut.

“When schools start the delays caused by road closures can become intolerable,” said Jumana Ala, a mother of a first grader.

Shireen Younis, a mother-of-three, added that the closure of the exit at Al Dhaid had completely confused her recently, leaving her completely lost.

“I followed the detour but shortly after no signs were available and I found myself somewhere I didn’t know,” she said. “I had to turn on Sat Nav to find an alternative route.”