x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Abu Dhabi intensifies bid to stop jaywalking

Many pedestrians continue to disobey the law, police say, despite the tunnels, bridges and other places to cross roads in the capital.

A pedestrian dashes across a busy road in the middle of traffic in Abu Dhabi.
A pedestrian dashes across a busy road in the middle of traffic in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // More than 650 people have been fined for jaywalking in the past three days as a campaign to stop people crossing in non-designated areas intensifies, the police said yesterday. The campaign by Abu Dhabi Traffic Police, which coincides with the GCC's pedestrian safety campaign, has also prompted fines for 802 owners of vehicles with worn and dangerous tyres.

Despite repeated appeals for pedestrians not to risk their lives by dodging vehicles as they cross traffic lanes, jaywalking persists, said Col Hamad Adil al Shamsi, the director of the police traffic and patrols department in the capital. Many continue to disobey the law, he said, "despite the existence of tunnels and bridges and places to cross". A total of 655 jaywalkers were fined Dh200 (US$54) each during the three days. Up to June 9, Abu Dhabi Police had issued 757 fines. In the first 71 days of the year, 26 pedestrians were killed crossing Abu Dhabi's roads, according to police statistics.

Although residents have complained that they have to walk long distances to tunnels and pedestrian bridges, police are urging them to consider the dangers of jaywalking. After a recent study by the UN listed the UAE's roads as among the most dangerous in the world, the Ministry of Interior's traffic department last week announced its own effort to make the roads safer. A study is expected to be released next month in which new traffic safety policies are introduced.

Police in the emirate are making a concerted effort to deal with jaywalking and speeding drivers. Yesterday, 22 officers graduated from Al Ain Police's Traffic and Patrols Division and are set to begin patrolling the streets and outlying areas of Al Ain. A further 11 officers have completed their motorcycle training. Patrols will focus on hot spots for accidents and jaywalking, and more pedestrian bridges are planned in the future, said Col al Shamsi.

Educating drivers in pedestrian safety was also vital, he said. At present, drivers can be fined Dh500 and receive six black points on their licence for failing to give way to pedestrians at crossings. The National reported last week that a former traffic expert from Britain, Doug Hayward, was advising the capital's police on reducing traffic accidents and road deaths. Proposals are also being considered to introduce road safety as a compulsory part of the school curriculum.

Col al Shamsi stressed the three-month crackdown on drivers using worn tyres was continuing. "Those in violation will have their vehicle impounded for a period of seven days and a fine of Dh200 for light vehicles," he said, adding that six black points would also be imposed. "This is a part of tightening traffic control on the internal and external roads in Abu Dhabi." The police statement further urged residents not to buy lower- quality or counterfeit tyres.

Four people have been killed and seven seriously injured in the past five months as the result of tyre blowouts. myoussef@thenational.ae