x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

RTA targets children in road safety drive

Transport authorities hope children will help educate their parents about road safety.

DUBAI // Transport authorities plan to target adults through their children by carrying out a series of road safety awareness campaigns in elementary and high schools this year.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) will use lectures and promotional literature to drive home key messages such as warnings against speeding and the vital need to wear seat belts, said Hussain al Banna, the RTA traffic director.

"Speeding is the first killer of people in Dubai," he said. "Once students are aware of the dangers of speeding and the importance of seat belts they [can] inherit it in their system and make their parents aware."

The measure would appear to go hand in hand with a Dubai police campaign launched last year that aims reach a zero death rate per 100,000 inhabitants by 2020. RTA figures show the fatality rate fell to 8.2 per 100,000 last year from 14.2 in 2009, 17.9 in 2008 and 21.6 in 2007.

"Our aim is to increase the level of awareness among children so that they have the basics in their mind by the time they are old enough to get [driving] licences," Mr al Banna said. "Once we are aggressive about safety awareness it will have an effect on these children, who will be building our community in the future."

More than 250 schools were surveyed by the RTA last year as part of a wider programme meant to identify the need for pedestrian crossings, speed barriers and better road signs. To improve safety, the RTA released a booklet in Braille yesterday detailing instructions about crossing roads and alighting buses.

"We speak to children and also special-needs children about the safe way to get out of school buses and cars," said Mr al Banna. "So many accidents happen when children step out of school buses."

The agency is also constructing 14 pedestrian bridges across the city identified as "black spots" for pedestrian fatalities including the crowded Emirates Road, taking the number of pedestrian bridges in Dubai to 74.

Several students were awarded certificates and cash prizes for essays on safety at a function at RTA headquarters yesterday. Sally Tareq, 17, of Al Rashid Al Saleh school, said her prize-winning Arabic presentation, which was packed with vivid pictures of road accident victims being thrown through car windscreens, aimed to push fellow students to wear seat belts.

"People here have got used to not using seat belts so now they must get used to wearing them," she said. "When I showed my school the pictures they were shocked, so maybe they will start being safe."