UAE increasing efforts to keep pedestrians safe

Failure to give way to pedestrians was blamed for 40 of the more than 1,200 traffic accidents nationwide in the first three months of this year.

ABU DHABI // Police and city planners are focusing their efforts on keeping pedestrians safe through public awareness, enforcement, and infrastructure and design improvements.

A three-month safety awareness campaign was launched by the Ministry of Interior in January, urging motorists to slow down, stick to traffic rules and give priority to pedestrians.

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.

Abu Dhabi Police's traffic and patrols directorate unveiled a campaign at Emirates Steel Industries in January, encouraging people to use bridges, tunnels and walkways when crossing roads.

Twenty-two per cent of serious accidents in the first three months of this year involved pedestrians. There were two pedestrian deaths, compared with one for the same period last year, Rashid Al Neyadi, head of Abu Dhabi traffic prosecution, said.

In February, Sharjah Police provided pedestrians and motorists with brochures giving information on how to keep everyone safe on the road. Police said there were 239 accidents where people were run over, resulting in 33 deaths last year.

A three-month campaign by Dubai Police kicked off in May, targeting 30,000 labourers with information about crossing busy roads. In the first quarter of this year, five people were killed and more than 90 were injured in 86 run-over accidents in Dubai.

Dubai police stopped 64,261 pedestrians for jaywalking last year and 17,326 were cited in the first quarter of this year. Last year, 7,352 motorists were fined Dh500 and six black points for not giving way to pedestrians, up from 3,574 in 2013.

Illegal pedestrian crossings carry a Dh200 penalty.

Musanada opened seven new footbridges across Abu Dhabi this year bringing the number of bridges built by the municipality to 15. More crossings are to be provided along with upgraded streets, bridges and tunnels.

But for some residents, not enough is being done.

“Pedestrians are still being ignored,” said Guiliano Moret, a Swiss pilot who lives near the Porsche showroom. “Protected crossings, bridges and sidewalks are in a poor state. They put so much energy on building fences when it’s not the solution to the problem.”

In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority has built 22 footbridges over the past two years, with seven more under construction.

Plans for several bridges are under way in Sharjah, including one near Al Qassimi Hospital, said Khalid Al Ali, secretary general of the Urban Planning Council.

“The most critical issue which leads to traffic violations and accidents is that many of the existing upper level and pedestrian tunnel crossings and mid-block crossings are not well-located,” said Glenn Havinoviski, a transport expert in Abu Dhabi.

“Especially in the summer if people have to walk farther to get to the crossing than they have to get to their destination, then there’s an issue with pedestrian accessibility.”

rruiz@thenational.ae

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