x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Drive to cut road deaths by 40%

A campaign began yesterday to cut the number of road deaths by nearly half over the next six years.

DUBAI // A campaign began yesterday to cut the number of road deaths by nearly half over the next six years. Last year, 293 people died on Dubai's roads. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) wants to see that to fall by 40 per cent by 2015. Its Take Care initiative coincides with the 25th Unified GCC Traffic Week. The main theme of the week will be the dangers of using mobile phones while driving, which the RTA said was one of the main causes of accidents.

"It disorientates the mindset and hearing of the driver, rendering him or her inattentive to all surrounding events," said Hussain al Banna, the director of the traffic department at the Traffic and Roads Agency. The campaign, with the slogan "Don't Call Till You Arrive", will include adverts in newspapers and on bridges, tunnels and bus shelters. Radio adverts will be broadcast in several languages.

According to the World Health Organisation, the risk of traffic accidents is three to four times higher when mobile phones - either hand-held devices or with a hands-free kit - are used while driving. Mr al Banna said research had found that a driver's concentration falls significantly while using a mobile phone. He said the campaign would seek "to educate motorists on the importance of implementing basic driving principles and attitudes related to traffic safety to preserve lives and properties". The campaign will also feature messages about the importance of wearing seat belts and observing speed limits. The hazards of driving while tired will also be highlighted. Drivers who jump red lights, fail to use indicators or tailgate other vehicles will be also targeted. "We are not going to use aggressive messages," Mr Parham said. "We are going to submit soft messages to build a relationship with the public and get them on our side." The RTA is using radio advertisements in five languages, including Arabic and English. "It is the first time we have made advertisements in South Indian, Persian and Filipino," Mr Parham said. Greg Jones, an engineer, said he hoped the campaign would have a positive effect on Dubai's road users. "There is nothing worse than driving and somebody is less than a foot behind you at high speeds and trying to send a text message at the same time," he said. "It is terrifying and I hope this campaign will have some form of an effect on that." Pauline Richards, a media executive, said the campaign was much needed. "A lot of the road signs are in English and I know lots of drivers would not have a good grasp of the English language," she said. "It is a good start to broadcast advertisements in other languages." eharnan@thenational.ae