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Road experts suggest changes to boost safety

On-the-spot fines, more police patrols and public education are recommended at an international symposium.

ABU DHABI // On-the-spot fines, more police patrols and public education were among the road-safety recommendations made yesterday at the close of an international symposium. The five-day programme, under the patronage of Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, the Minister of Interior, brought together road safety experts from Europe, the United States and the Arab world. It covered such topics as improving roadside safety, educating motorists to be more responsible on the roads, the role of emergency response teams in traffic safety, and the effect of photo radar in reducing accidents.

Last year, 1,056 people died on the UAE's roads, up 20 per cent from 2006. About 12,210 people were injured last year, an increase of almost six per cent on the year before. The ministry's aim has been to reduce road deaths to 14.2 for every 100,000 residents by the end of this year, from last year's figure of 15.7. Participants said during the conference that educating children from an early age was important, and that traffic safety should be the topic of Friday sermons. Getting people to volunteer their time to speak about road safety could greatly help to get the message across, the symposium was told. A young person speaking to other young people about driving standards would have more effect than if authorities were doing the talking.

It was also proposed that the governments encourage the use of public transport to help ease congestion and reduce pollution. As part of a transport master plan in Abu Dhabi, the Government has planned an integrated system with trams, metro lines, high-speed rail and buses. More police on the roads could help improve road safety, symposium participants said, and on-the-spot fines would be a strong deterrent to unsafe driving.

The symposium also recommended improving testing for vehicles and increasing the number of training hours needed for learners to receive their licences. Bahrain was identified as a model for traffic education for children and it was suggested that it host a symposium on the topic. @Email:hdajani@thenational.ae mchung@thenational.ae The Abu Dhabi symposium was organised by the Emirates Traffic Safety Society, the Arab Road Safety Organisation and Prévention Routière Internationale.

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