b63bf86fb744a210VgnVCM200000e66411acRCRDapproved/thenational/Articles/Migration/2010-08Smart patrols for better road safetya63bf86fb744a210VgnVCM200000e66411ac____Smart patrols for better road safetyWith Ramadan fast approaching, the UAE's population is slowly returning home. Cars filled with families travelling to and fro as they celebrate the Holy Month will soon fill the roads, heralding a time when safety is of the utmost importance.<p>Saving lives on the road has just become smarter in Dubai.
As we reported yesterday, police cars there are equipped with scanners that can detect if you have outstanding offences - so-called "smart patrol" vehicles. This is not only a welcome move on the part of the authorities, but one that comes at a fitting time.
With Ramadan fast approaching, the UAE's population is slowly returning home. Cars filled with families travelling to and fro as they celebrate the Holy Month will soon fill the roads, heralding a time when safety is of the utmost importance.</p>
<p>Allowing authorities to clamp down on cars that have accumulated large numbers of unpaid offences only aids in the effort to make our roads more safe. As Lt Col Saif Muhair al Mazroui of Dubai Police has pointed out, worn out car parts with expired registrations can increase the likelihood of accidents. The ability to scan and confiscate such vehicles can dramatically reduce the death toll on our roads, which currently stands at 13 deaths per 100,000 in Dubai - a lower figure than last year, to be fair, but still 13 tragic deaths too many.</p>
<p>More broadly, the enforcement of responsible driving through the use of such technology can encourage change in the UAE's driving culture, which has thus far been slow in coming. Traffic offences such as expired registrations, speeding fines and tailgating speak to a reckless road attitude, which is only exacerbated when people are allowed to go for months - and even years - without punishment. The ability to penalise these people on the spot may seem Draconian, but it is essential to show reckless drivers the errors of their ways;.</p>
<p>Take the 21-year-old student, Mohammed Ebrahim,who paid around Dh7,000 in traffic fines last year, and claimed that "traffic awareness among us is still very new and it will take time to make safe driving a way of life".
That may be true. But we hope for his sake and the lives of others on the road that these new patrol cars will force such drivers to check their speedometers - and their rear view mirros - with more frequency.</p>