UAE Traffic Week kicks off

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By Matovu A. Twaha  gulftoday.ae

THE issue of pedestrian crossings remain thorny in the UAE, and the authorities in Dubai will focus on it for a month as of Sunday, the opening of the Gulf Traffic Week.

DubaiThe Traffic Week is running under the theme “Let us Work Together to Reduce Accidents.”

Concerned that 42 people died from over 300 run-over accidents in Dubai last year, the Roads and Transport Authorities (RTA) have decided to raise full awareness on the issue.

“We shall focus on pedestrian crossings, targeting areas witnessing frequent run-over accidents as revealed by the traffic surveys and statistics,” said the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Traffic and Roads Agency at the RTA, Eng. Maitha Adai.

The campaign that started with the Gulf Traffic Week “will last for a month. Among other activities, we shall visit patients injured in traffic accidents and admitted to Rashid Hospital in Dubai.”

Many residents have demanded for more pedestrian crossings. One of the roads in question is the Ittihad Road that turns into Al Wahda, on the crossover to Sharjah. At least once a month, a run over casualty is reported along the road.

“I have no option but to cough a minimum of Dhs10 when I am crossing to either side of the Ittihad Road,” said Alex Ssalongo of Nahda Two in Dubai.

Early this year, the Director General of Dubai Traffic Police, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen said they were in touch with the RTA to have pedestrian passages and bridges increased “particularly in areas where a high number of run-over accidents were reported.”

A senior official from the RTA’s traffic department told The Gulf Today that from 14 bridges in 2006 to the 42 to date, there has been a remarkable decrease in the number of accidents in the Emirate of Dubai.

He said that the year 2007 was “very catastrophic as it saw the death of 142 people. The stats kept reducing whenever the number of bridges were constructed.”

He pointed out as an example that 116 died in 2008 as compared to 78 in 2009.

The number is now 42, “which is still big since we’re pursuing a zero traffic death within a decade,” he added.

Up to 19 more bridges and tunnels for pedestrians will be built by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the RTA will organise, among other activities, an open house for university and college students “Our Traffic Awareness Ambassadors” where awards will be given to the winners of the traffic education movie’s contest “Your Safety in Your Distance” launched by the RTA last December for the students of universities and college in Dubai about the risk of failing to leave sufficient driving distance.