x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

A safer crossing

There's a reason they're called crosswalks - not crossruns.

Crossing the road should not be a life-threatening exercise. Yet for many reasons - from speed-crazy drivers to a critical lack of crossings - the UAE is one of the deadliest places on the planet for those moving about on foot.

Much has been made about the nation's annual pedestrian death toll. Measures like overpasses, tunnels and signals have helped lower incidents of traffic fatalities. But injuries and accidents remain all too common.

Solutions to this most basic quandary of city planning exist. One approach, as The National reported last week, is to take pedestrians over the busiest of highways, rather than through them. Nine new pedestrian bridges are planned for across the emirate, including three in the vicinity of schools. The tragic death of three Emirati sisters in 2009 continues to serve as a violent reminder that no one is safe from a speeding vehicle.

Bridges may work to save lives, but they are not the most convenient or cost effective. Better signage for drivers, and clearly marked crossings with functioning signals should be more common than they are.

Of course, the best scenario would be an improved culture of safety and respect, where drivers slow down and yield to those on foot - rather than forcing people to sprint to safety. After all, pedestrians crossings in America are known as crosswalks for a reason.