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Bus drivers urged to respect crossing points

Authorities launch year-long campaign to reduce number of labourers who are fatally run over while crossing roads on foot.

DUBAI // Hundreds of labourers are hit by cars every year while jaywalking, a number Dubai Police are hoping to drastically reduce with a new public awareness campaign. There were 132 people killed in 2007 and 106 last year after they were hit by cars on the road. In the industrial area of Al Quoz alone, 81 people were run over. According to police statistics, 358 Indians, 111 Pakistanis and 57 Bangledeshis were hit by cars last year while on foot. Those nationalities make up most of the labour population, which is the number one group involved in pedestrian accidents. As part of the Cross Safely project, police are urging bus drivers to take responsibility for dropping the labourers off at designated pedestrian crossing points, so that they can cross safely and are not forced to jaywalk, police said yesterday. Traffic police plan to target 365 contracting and construction companies as part of their information campaign and hope to have reached 90 per cent of them by the end of this year. The events department plans to hold Friday lectures in Arabic, English and Urdu on the dangers of jaywalking for employees at 100 construction and contracting companies. "Most accidents occur in the industrial areas where there is a dense population of labourers and we want ensure that the message reaches them and we aim to target as many as we can at the time when they will be available, which is in the weekend," said Col Jamal Al Banai, director of the traffic violations follow-up department. Major Omar Moosa Ashoor, head of the traffic police events department, said labourers will be educated on their rights and safety, and coached on how to refuse to get off at the wrong stops. "We want labourers to understand and force the driver to drop them off in a safe area," he said. "They may realise that a friend of theirs died this way and they do not want to take the risk." The campaign will also target drivers, who will be monitored and rewarded for exercising skill at the wheel. Major Ashoor said much of the responsibility for pedestrian deaths on the road belongs to the bus drivers, who tend to drop passengers off where there is no safe way for them to cross the road. "Bus drivers should understand that if they stop at an area that did not contain a pedestrian crossing then they will be putting the lives of passengers at risk," he said. "The bus driver should not stop even at the request of a passenger. We aim that the regulation of labour bus drivers will reach the same level as transport buses that only stops in designated bus stops." Mr al Banai said lack of awareness is one of the biggest reasons for pedestrian accidents and deaths. "Labourers work all week and as the weekend comes many make it out on foot and often without attention, they would make the mistake of crossing from undesignated areas and would put their life at risk," he said. Police also called upon the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to make it easier for people to get around the city on foot. "More pedestrian tunnels and bridges should be built, especially on busy roads such as Sheikh Zayed Road, and more buses should be placed to transport workers around on weekends," Mr al Banai said. The RTA plans to install new foot bridges and underpasses by September. A spokesman for the RTA said: "Close to two dozen foot bridges and underpasses will be completed this year. The majority of the metro stations will also have either foot bridges or underpasses. "Ever since the barriers were put up in between roads on SZR, we have seen a huge reduction of jaywalkers there." rabubaker@thenational.ae

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