x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Road tragedies take toll on families

Hard-hitting Gulf Traffic Week video features those who have lost loved ones in road accidents.

A school girl cries after losing her brother in a traffic accident.
A school girl cries after losing her brother in a traffic accident.

Hard-hitting footage of families who have lost loved ones in road accidents feature in a new campaign to curb the death toll.

The videos are among 10 safety initiatives being implemented through social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

The move was inspired by the number of mobile phones in the UAE - one of the highest user rates in the world.

"Social media is playing a huge role here now, so it is a must that we reach out to every single person," said Abdullatif Alsayegh, chief executive of the Traffic and Patrols Directorate's (TPD) "Together" campaign.

There are one million Twitter users and 2.9 million Facebook users in the UAE, making the sites the "new majlis on the web", said Mr Alsayegh.

YouTube is one of the three most visited websites in the UAE.

The 10 new initiatives are part of the 28th Gulf Traffic Week, which runs until Saturday.

They include a Digital Traffic Ticket application, which lets people give their friends a digital "fine" to highlight their reckless driving.

The Reward Your Family scheme involves people entering their licence details at the TPD's Facebook page. The more members of a family with clean driving records, the higher the chances of winning prizes.

Other initiatives include The Broken Heart and Meet the Victims, which aim to highlight the impact of reckless driving. Families who have lost loved ones or have been seriously injured in road accidents speak about their feelings of loss.

Mr Alsayegh said it was time to "really make a difference and save lives". "We need every support to make it happen," he added.

As TPD's social media presence grows, it plans to build a database of the population to help them plan future campaigns.

Mr Alsayegh hopes the public will be inspired to contribute their own ideas to the campaign.

"The UAE is a very cosmopolitan place, so we want everyone to get involved," he said. "We came up with the 10 initiatives but we don't want it to be limited to only our ideas."

The director general of traffic coordination at the Ministry of Interior, Brig Gen Ghaith Al Zaabi, said that even though the traffic system was advanced, there was still a need for more awareness about safety.

"We need to make sure each and every motorist is conscientious about their life and the lives of others who share the roads with them," he said. "Without a doubt, we all feel the grave losses incurred due to traffic accidents, especially losses of human lives."

The TPD director, Brig Eng Hussein Ahmed Al Harthi, said the internet was an integral tool for changing attitudes to driving.

This year's campaign will be implemented in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region under the slogan "Let's work together to reduce traffic accidents".

The campaign is targeting younger motorists to achieve a "sustainable safety culture" in future generations.

"We have devoted our expertise in traffic safety issues to formulate an integrated plan, which will be a continuation of the efforts we have made in reducing traffic accidents," said Brig Al Harthi.



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