x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

RTA launches safety campaign

Agency hopes passengers will encourage safer driving.

DUBAI // Police are urging families and friends to stop drivers using mobile phones.

Maj Gen Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, the deputy commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, said it was difficult to pinpoint the number of accidents caused by drivers using phones, but passengers would often later tell police if that was the cause.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Dubai Police yesterday launched an awareness campaign, called Road Safety, putting the onus on passengers to help cut the number of road deaths.

The mass advertising campaign is intended to help to reduce the number of motorists who use phones while driving,  those who speed and those who do not wear seat belts.

With the slogan of “I won’t let it happen”, organisers hope to put the onus on passengers to let drivers know when they are behaving dangerously.

Gen Al Mazeina said if the campaign changed one life, the authorities would consider it a success.

“We are trying to change the mindset and the culture and we need the people to support us,” he said.

The advertising campaign will run in print, on television and in cinemas, and will appear on billboards and bridges.

The number of road fatalities dropped significantly between 2007 and 2009. In 2007 there were 21.7 cases for every 100,000 people; in 2009 it was 12.7 for each 100,000.

“The past months of this year have seen a substantial drop in fatalities and the rate is expected to hit 7 cases per 100,000 of population by the end of this year,” said Mattar Al Tayer, the chairman and executive director of the RTA.

Mr Al Tayer said it took less than one second of lapsed concentration to cause an accident and mobile phones were one of the main causes.

Dr Aysha Al Busmait, the director of marketing and corporate communications at RTA, said the campaign would target all segments of the community.

“It focuses on sending a message to passengers through calling upon them to shoulder their responsibility in rectifying the negative practices of drivers, such as speeding, using the mobile phone in making calls or texting while driving, failure to fasten the safety belt and other practices that raise the likelihood of crashes,” Dr Al Busmait said.

The RTA will hold workshops and deliver lectures at colleges, schools, public and private offices and at shopping centres.

Dubai Police will continue to enforce the law against using mobile phones while driving.

eharnan@thenational.ae