Parents cite methods to keep children safe in school zones

Additional parking bays, improved pedestrian facilities and more traffic enforcement is needed to keep children safe around schools, parents say.
Motorists must observe the 30kph speed limit and yield the right of way to children at school crossings. Christopher Pike / The National
Motorists must observe the 30kph speed limit and yield the right of way to children at school crossings. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // Additional parking bays, improved pedestrian facilities and more traffic enforcement is needed to keep children safe around schools, parents say.

Motorists must also observe the 30kph speed limit, and yield the right of way to children at school crossings.

Heidi Halls takes her children to school every day and said reckless drivers were putting them at risk by failing to slow down and to stop at crossings.

School zones, which were previously unmarked, now had signs noting the speed limit, improved road markings and speed bumps. Red pavement notified motorists they were entering a school zone.

“Actually, I don’t understand the processes out here,” Mrs Halls said. “In the UK, you stop at the crossings and let the children cross. Just now, I think it must be different here. It doesn’t seem to exist.”

There should be a push for increased driver awareness of the presence of children around schools so they would have easy and safe access.

Authorities could install flashing lights near the crossings to ensure the right of way for schoolchildren, build barriers and provide more parking bays, she said.

“Maybe we need more security, not necessarily police,” she said, adding that motorists to be more patient.

“It’s the parking but it’s the same thing everywhere,” said another mother. “So you see everyone coming out in the crossing because there is a double parking, they don’t see the children crossing. It’s very dangerous.”

Last September, Brig Gen Hussain Al Harethi, head of Abu Dhabi Traffic Police, called on parents to drop their children off only at designated areas and to make sure that they crossed the road safely.

Parents were also asked not to let children out of their vehicles using the doors on the left side, and were advised to park properly to avoid blocking secondary roads and causing traffic jams outside the school building.

Selam Bailey, a 34-year-old mother-of-two, said adequate measures were in place to keep her children safe inside and outside the school.

“Everyone’s driving slow here,” she said. “I feel the children are safe here.”

At one of the school’s gates, three maintenance staff wearing neon green vests were helping with the smooth flow of vehicles at the car park. The rest of the staff were assigned to two other gates, she said.

“They’re always here and I don’t think we need more people to make the roads safe,” Mrs Bailey said.

Hassan Kamel Karima, 44, who took his daughter to and from Rosary School, said the morning traffic was manageable.

“We don’t face any problems in the morning when we drop off our children,” he said. “But traffic is bad after 2pm. There are just too many cars.”

He said heavy police presence was not necessary, but suggested additional school staff members supervise traffic. “One time a car was driving so fast – above the speed limit,” he said. “It’s very dangerous for children crossing the road.”

Last month the Abu Dhabi Safety and Traffic Solutions Committee sent a warning to motorists who failed to adhere to traffic laws in school zones, which it said was a “critical traffic violation”.

Ignoring the speed limits and not giving way to students crossing in school zones would result in traffic fines and black points on the driver’s licence, it said.

The penalty for exceeding the maximum speed limit by not more than 10kph was a Dh400 fine. Drivers who did not give way at pedestrian crossings also ran the risk of a Dh500 fine and six black points on their licence.

The initiative was part of an awareness campaign launched last month through newspaper advertisements and social media.

The committee had also tackled common traffic offences such as overtaking on the hard shoulder, stopping in yellow-box junctions, and stopping at pedestrian crossings.

rruiz@thenational.ae

Published: June 1, 2014 04:00 AM

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