ABU DHABI // Roads outside of the capital's schools will be widened and better safety measures implemented to beat traffic jams in a bid to reduce accidents and fatalities.
Many of the 127 schools in Abu Dhabi reported problems with traffic when parents pick up and drop off their children. Students rushing from class into busy streets was also highlighted as a safety issue.
Initially, 30 schools a year will benefit from the plans, which will run over five years, said Engineer Abdullah Saeed Al Shamsi, the acting executive director of Municipal Infrastructure and Assets Sector at Abu Dhabi Municipality.
"There are a large number of areas with clusters of schools bordering the road network," said Mr Al Shamsi. "Speeding vehicles, poor design of roads leading to schools and traffic congestion, coupled with parents' non-compliance with some safety requirements and lack of pedestrian crossings in these areas, add to the problem."
Signs and markings will also be improved to clearly inform motorists they are in school zones and to reduce their speed to 30kph.
According to statistics from the municipality, there were 334 incidents resulting in a death or serious injury outside of schools on Abu Dhabi Island in 2011, compared with 374 in 2010.
These incidents were put down to inadequate parking for the large number of cars driven to schools, a lack of supervised or controlled drop-off and pick up areas for students, poorly designed school layouts and the unavailability of shaded walking routes for pedestrians.
A study on injuries suffered by children travelling to school also found that between 2007 and 2010 there were five fatalities a year with 80 injuries. A third of these injuries were sustained by pedestrians.
The key objectives of the Road Safety Improvement Programme (Safety of School Zones) are to identify busy school zones and to improve the safety of all road users.
The five-year plan, which will also include work to improve pedestrian crossings and pavements, was launched yesterday with the help of John Hayes, British minister of state for further education, at the British School in Al Khubairat.
As well as targeting motorists, the safety campaign aims to involve students, school staff and parents.
Andrew Elkati, 11, a pupil of the British School, said parents need to teach their children about road safety measures. "Road signs are there and students should be vigilant while crossing roads," he said.
Fellow pupil Caitlin Mason said: "I find stray animals mostly cause accidents, like cats when they suddenly run out onto the road, but I would make my peers aware about the dangers of roads."