Race car drivers and diplomats support road etiquette campaign

Officially launched in January this year, Road Safety UAE has won the support of Formula One legend Nikki Lauda and top Indian and Pakistani diplomats in the UAE.

Former racing driver Niki Lauda’s message to road users is clear, roads are not for racing and an accident can change lives in a split second. Patrick Baz / AFP
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ABU DHABI // The Formula One legend Niki Lauda and top Indian and Pakistani diplomats in the UAE have endorsed and supported a campaign that encourages road etiquette and politeness.

“Safety is a key concern on all roads and my life experience shows how rapidly lives can change through an accident – literally in a split second,” Lauda said. “Safety must be the clear number one priority when we are driving on the UAE’s roads. Every responsible driver must eliminate potential risks to himself and to other traffic participants. My message is clear: roads are not racing grounds.”

“It feels fantastic to work in a field that receives so much support,” said Thomas Edelmann, founder of the website RoadSafetyUAE.

“We hope we will be able to make a difference in improving the culture and behaviour on our roads.”

The backbone of the educational campaign is the online portal, where 43 topics of road safety, specific to the UAE, are covered.

The most recent one is Bus Safety, reflecting on the horrific bus crash on Emirates Road last month that killed 13 workers.

Another recent addition is Dubai Tram, to familiarise motorists with new traffic signs and new behaviour they will need when interacting with trams, which are scheduled to be introduced in November.

The portal also offers a blog function, a road safety improvement proposal section, an online poll section and sections for endorsers and a section for corporate supporters.

At Gulf Traffic Week in March, RoadSafetyUAE launched the initiative "Make UAE Roads Safer!" inviting motorists and passengers to sign a pledge to show their commitment to safety. Each signatory pledges to wear seat belts and use indicators, not to speed or use a mobile phone without a proper headset.

“We visited the Indian and Pakistani ambassadors by facilitation of the Austrian ambassador, with the aim of spreading educational messages to the nationality groups most affected by poor road safety on our streets,” Mr Edelmann said.

RoadSafetyUAE now aims to win the support of leaders and celebrities, especially for the target audiences of Emiratis, Pakistanis and Indians.

“There is a true willingness to change the culture on our roads for the better, with the aim of improving road safety in the UAE,” he said.

RoadSafetyUAE has partnered with Vox Cinemas, part of the Majid Al Futtaim Group, which offered to run road-safety commercials for a year in all eight of its UAE cinemas.

“It is possible to change our driving culture to a caring attitude through education and constant awareness,” Mr Edelmann said. “We are very much looking forward to this journey.”