Resident takes a stand against drivers who ignore pedestrian crossings

A resident who used to attract a lot of honking and bullying from drivers at pedestrian crossings has launched a campaign to promote caution and respect behind the wheel.
Iftekhar Ahmed has launched an awareness project in Abu Dhabi on pedestrian safety and has placed a decal sticker on his vehicle  which reads “Ensure pedestrian safety.” Delores Johnson / The National
Iftekhar Ahmed has launched an awareness project in Abu Dhabi on pedestrian safety and has placed a decal sticker on his vehicle which reads “Ensure pedestrian safety.” Delores Johnson / The National

ABU DHABI // A resident who used to attract a lot of honking and bullying from drivers at pedestrian crossings has launched a campaign to promote caution and respect behind the wheel.

Drivers making right turns do not often yield to pedestrians, particularly at uncontrolled zebra crossings, said Iftekhar Ahmed, a Bangladeshi-born Canadian electrical engineer who moved to the UAE in 1995.

“Drivers always seem to be in a hurry and do not stop for pedestrians to cross,” he said.

“I’ve noticed saloon cars and SUVs honking at vehicles in front of them. I’ve also experienced that kind of bullying from arrogant drivers when I slow down and stop and give way to pedestrians.”

On his 58th birthday on March 5, Mr Ahmed placed a decal on the rear of his sport utility vehicle. It had a red triangle-shaped sign with a symbol of a person, and the phrase “Ensure pedestrian safety”.

“When we park our cars and walk, we become pedestrians too,” said the father of two in their 20s. “We expect other drivers to stop for us and allow us to cross safely.”

Since placing the decal on his Toyota Fortuner, cars from behind rarely honk at him, but allow pedestrians to cross.

“While I still encounter some aggressive drivers when I drive around the city, others have responded positively to my experiment in the past few months,” he said.

Experts have welcomed Mr Ahmed’s pedestrian safety awareness initiative, which aims to reduce the number of run-over deaths and injuries.

Failure to give way to pedestrians was blamed for 40 of the 1,232 traffic accidents nationwide in the first three months of this year. It carries a Dh500 fine and a penalty of six black points.

A woman who hit a pedestrian at a crossing drove through three signals before seeing him hanging off her bonnet, an Abu Dhabi prosecutor said in May. The pedestrian later died.

“About 15 to 20 per cent of UAE’s road traffic fatalities are pedestrians so we need to raise awareness to keep them safe on the road,” said Thomas Edelmann, founder of Road Safety UAE website.

“Ideally the key issues of road safety need to be addressed in a holistic manner, and car stickers can play a certain role.”

Decals have been used for other road safety initiatives and do provide an additional reminder for drivers, said Dino Kalivas, chairman of the driver education and training committee at the International Road Federation.

“However, the benefits of using decals have not been proven by way of research,” he said.

Many drivers are impatient when it comes to giving way to pedestrians, while pedestrians themselves cross roads and intersections, against the red lights.

“This causes tension,” he said. “Both pedestrians and drivers should not cross against signals as this makes the problem between them worse, and leads to less tolerance of each other.”

“The best advice is to ignore the honking.”

rruiz@thenational.ae

Published: July 23, 2015 04:00 AM

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