New law aims to cut soaring road deaths

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New law aims to cut soaring road deaths
By Rayeesa Absal, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: January 12, 2008, 23:29

Abu Dhabi: The traffic department has come up with tougher regulations that will come into effect from March, with the aim of bringing down the death toll related to traffic accidents.

Gulf News spoke to Colonel Gaith Al Za’abi, Director of Traffic Department at Ministry of Interior, to find out more.

Gulf News: Could you tell us about the upcoming changes in the traffic law?

Colonel Gaith Al Za’abi: Fourteen changes have been made to the existing Traffic Law, which will come to effect from March 1. We are looking at cutting down the number of traffic accidents by 5 per cent. As per the instructions of Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior, a committee was formed with members of the traffic department of each emirate, and we after much discussion decided upon these amendments.

The traffic death toll in the country hit 852 last year. This is not a small number. We need effective measures to bring down this figure.

How would the amended laws help in cutting down accidents?

The committee identified four targets. Reducing the number of accidents, reducing traffic jams, increasing awareness and developing a traffic culture and reducing the number of accidents involving pedestrians. To achieve each target, a detailed action plan has been drafted.

Dh20,000 will be the minimum fine for serious offences and the penalty may also include a jail term, as per the court ruling. In addition to the heftier fines and jail terms, we will also implement a black points system.

What are the main challenges ahead for your department?

Increasing the awareness of people is one of the challenges. Pedestrians who do not cross at designated areas is a major cause of concern. Some motorists also do not respect the rights of the pedestrians. Making people aware will help reduce many accidents.

According to the new law, if a person crosses a road which has a speed limit over 80kmh then he/she would be held responsible for an accident. The growing number of pedestrian-related accidents and deaths has led the authorities to reach this decision.

But there are many areas that do not have proper pedestrian crossings?

The necessary infrastructure developments to support this law would be carried out simultaneously.

Those who talk on mobile phones while driving is another issue. These people slow down sometimes on highways which can be dangerous for them as well as others.

What measures will be taken to improve the public’s awareness?

Four programmes are being finalised for this. Our aim is to make the roads safer for all road users and for this we will reach out to all residents in the country. Lat year, approximately 25 per cent of accidents involved UAE nationals, 49 per cent involved Asians and 19 per cent involved Arab nationals.

These programmes will be relayed using visual, audio and print media, later this year. And this will play a significant role in developing a traffic culture.

Some of the emirates have local bodies that deal with traffic rules. How will this be tackled?

Cooperation between the emirates is part of our agenda. This is a federal law and all the emirates will implement it. The agenda discusses the use of latest technology, development of new methodologies to positively affect road users, bringing about changes in road engineering and helping other emirates develop their infrastructure.

What are the main causes of accidents?

According to our statistics, speeding is a major cause. Not maintaining adequate distance from other vehicles and entering roads without verifying if the road is clear also cause many accidents.

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