DUBAI // All Dubai policemen have been given the power to enforce traffic laws to make the emirate's roads less deadly. Regular police officers will also be required to call up the driving records of any motorist they stop in the course of their normal duties. They will also check if the driver's licence or vehicle registration has expired, as traffic police do.
The measures will augment what officials acknowledge is a shortage of enforcement personnel on Dubai roads. The hope is that it will help the emirate meet its target of between 11.8 and 12.5 road deaths per 100,000 people this year, compared to 12.9 last year. Traffic police make up only 5.5 per cent of the Dubai force. "The number of traffic police in Dubai is about half of the number of traffic police force in other countries around the world," said Major Gen Saif al Zafein, the Dubai traffic police chief. "We have to admit that we have a shortage and it is one of the challenges facing us in enforcing the rules.
"This new measure will give a boost to our work as road offenders will be monitored better. This will hopefully discourage them from committing violations and thus reduce accidents." Last year's Dubai fatality rate was almost triple that of Japan at 4.5 per 100,000, which is higher than the UK rate but lower than in the US, Germany and France, Japan's national police agency has reported. The overall number of traffic fatalities in Dubai fell to 62 in the first quarter of this year compared with 69 in the same period of last year. However, that rate, if projected for the entire year, would fall short of the overall goal per 100,000 residents.
"We are working on changing this reality in the second quarter," said Gen al Zafein. One way of doing so will be to send high-ranking officials onto the streets to lend their presence to the programme. Another will be to deploy unmarked vehicles on the main roads to inform police patrols about offences they see. "By having a head of department patrolling the road we are giving weight for the police force," said Gen al Zafein.
Emirates Road is the deadliest road in the emirate with 13 fatalities in the first quarter, followed by Dubai Bypass Road with seven. However, the Dubai-Al Ain road, the deadliest thoroughfare during the same period of last year, witnessed a decrease of road fatalities this year, according to the quarterly traffic police report. The main causes of road deaths are speeding and accidents involving pedestrians, the report said. The number of motorists fined for jumping traffic lights almost doubled in the first quarter compared to the same period of last year.