UAE motorists display decals to urge crossing protocol

The decals that are being displayed on cars to promote pedestrian safety awareness project among drivers in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Increasing numbers of residents in the capital have started displaying safety decals on their cars to urge other motorists to stop for pedestrians at crossings.

The sticker has a red triangle-shaped sign with a symbol of a person, and the phrase “Ensure pedestrian safety”.

“Sadly, many drivers rarely give way to pedestrians,” said Muneer Ahmed Shahabudeen, 51, a banker from Bangladesh who has lived in the UAE for 22 years. “I think we can make a difference to keep them safe on the roads.”

For years, other drivers would often sound their horns at him for stopping for pedestrians at zebra crossings. “They tend to drive recklessly but I just ignore them,” he said. “But in my early driving days, I used to panic.”

The father of one noticed a positive change in behaviour among motorists since he began displaying a decal on his car about three months ago.

“I believe drivers could see the sticker so they stopped honking,” said Mr Shahabudeen.

He received the decal from Iftekhar Ahmed, a Bangladeshi-born Canadian electrical engineer who started the campaign in March.

“I’m inspired by Mr Iftekhar’s passion for road safety,” said Mr Shahabudeen. “I would highly recommend the decal to other drivers to raise awareness of pedestrian safety issues and to push for change.”

Drivers should be more considerate and courteous to pedestrians, said Salman Moncatar, 33, an electrical engineer from the Philippines.

“Many drivers here in Abu Dhabi are reckless,” he said. “Some drivers have little patience. They’re always in a hurry and behave irresponsibly.”

Since placing the decal on his car in July, he said drivers had stopped honking at him at busy pedestrian crossings.

“The sticker must have attracted some attention,” he said.

“I think more cars should have the sticker to have a more significant impact on pedestrian safety.”

So far, seven people, including Mr Ahmed, have the sticker on the rear of their vehicles.

“Government and semi-government authorities can adopt it as part of their corporate social responsibility strategies and plans,” said Mr Ahmed, who launched a safety awareness project on LinkedIn in 2012.

Col Jamal Al Ameri, head of public relations at the Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrols Directorate, said he did not see anything wrong with the use of decals to promote pedestrian safety.

“However, the sticker should be small, should not contain indecent words, symbols or shapes, and not be placed on number plates to hide the numbers, which carries a Dh200 fine,” he said.

Phil Clarke, a principal road safety consultant at the transport research laboratory, hoped the decals would have an effect on motorists’ behaviour.

“Drivers need to be more tolerant and to give way to pedestrians when safe to do so at uncontrolled crossings, comply with traffic signals at controlled crossings and intersections, and drive at appropriate speeds well below the posted limit in the vicinity of pedestrian crossings.”

As for drivers honking at other motorists for stopping at pedestrian crossings, Mr Clarke said: “Ignore them and certainly do not enter into any gesturing or be part of any ‘road rage’ situation which might develop.

“Pedestrians, on the other hand, need to use designated crossing points properly, obey any signals at controlled crossings and be vigilant to traffic.”