ABU DHABI // Videos of horrific traffic accidents are to be used by police as shock tactics for the 25th Gulf Traffic Week, which starts today. The campaign, announced by Al Ain police yesterday, aims to highlight the effects of bad driving. Educational posters have been printed along with video clips of accidents caused "by gross negligence and recklessness", said Lt Col Mohammed al Ameri, head of Al Ain office of the department of emergency and public safety with Abu Dhabi Police.
They will be shown in Al Ain mall. Rescue equipment used by emergency services will also be exhibited to raise public awareness of the risks on the roads. "It's important to educate the public about traffic accidents and avoiding serious injuries," said Lt Col Ameri. He also said it was important to advise the public how to respond to such incidents, and stressed that people should "deal with emergency service providers, who have the best and most advanced equipment".
It was also essential that the public "refrain from transporting the injured on their own so as to eliminate the risk of further injury". The Unified Gulf Traffic Week, which runs until Mar 19, is being held under the theme Don't Call Till You Arrive, a reference to drivers who use their mobile phones behind the wheel. Traffic safety was also the theme of the weekly sermon yesterday, in the week of the first anniversary of Fog Tuesday, the country's worst multi-car crash when 200 cars collided in heavy fog on Mar 11, leaving four dead and 350 injured.
Such was the level of outrage at the crash that some clergy raised the possibility of stripping a driver of his right to proper burial if he died or killed someone as a result of his recklessness. The government-issued sermon said: "Every one of us, whether a driver or pedestrian, ought to respect traffic rules and exhibit good behaviour and civilised manners while paying utmost attention, responsibility, prudence and patience.
"We must also avoid knee-jerk reactions and reckless driving. The safety of our streets is everyone's responsibility." Issued by the General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Endowments, the sermon was a repeat of one delivered on Mar 14 last year, only three days after Fog Tuesday. "Roads are a public privilege, and we have obligations toward them," said the sermon. "The Prophet said: 'Give the way its right', and indeed Muslims of the time paid a great deal of attention to their roads. They paved it and ensured that it is clean and safe for travellers."
So far this year, 26 pedestrians have been killed crossing the road, and last year the figure was 90, according to statistics released by Abu Dhabi Police. "God has bestowed upon us more privileges than we can count, and one of these privileges is that He availed to us various ways of transport for people to use to arrive at their destination of choice. And God has commanded us to thank Him for these privileges every time we use it," added the sermon.
Worshippers attending the Friday prayer could relate to the authorities' sense of urgency over the issue of traffic safety. "I drive a lot," said Abdullah al Maz, 23, an Indian national who is working as a property salesman in Dubai. "I see too many people talking on their phone and, in the afternoon, too many drivers are asleep. I've actually seen one accident where a car weaved its way from the second lane through the third and into the fast lane before it smashed into the median. The driver must have fallen asleep."
The UAE is sending a delegation of 15 officers from traffic and licensing authorities to GCC countries such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain during traffic week. firstname.lastname@example.org