x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Safe drivers to be rewarded with white points under new plan

Dubai officials hope the 'white points' system will be an incentive for people to drive more safely.

DUBAI // A "white points" system that rewards good drivers by allowing them to erase minor violations from their record will give motorists incentive to be safer on the roads, officials said yesterday

Dubai traffic police are yet to finalise the new plan but, based on the system, police will also be able to identify Dubai's safest driver.

"We want to reward law-abiding drivers by giving white points that they can use to cancel out minor violations," said Maj Gen Mohammed al Zafein, director of the Dubai Police General Traffic Administration. "Every year we will present between eight to 10 white points to drivers who have no violations.

"These points can be utilised if the driver committed a violation that involves car impoundment, and can cancel out minor violations."

The white points plan was the brainchild of Dubai Police Chief Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim and will be awarded only to Dubai-issued licence holders and Dubai-registered cars.

"Based on the white point system, we will also choose the city's safest driver," the major general said.

A road safety expert welcomed the idea as a rational approach to encourage good driving.

"This is a good approach which is rational rather than fear-orientated," said Yasser Hawas, director of the Roadway, Transportation and Traffic Safety Research Center at United Arab Emirates University. "This will encourage drivers to apply safety standards and follow regulations rather than penalise them." Mr Hawas said he saw no reason the system would not work.

Since 2007, Dubai has been battling to increase road safety on several fronts - including the introduction of the black points system.

"There is on average a minor accident every three minutes in Dubai," said Maj Gen al Zafien.

Dubai police studies showed that between 1998 and 2007, road deaths increased more than 60 per cent before beginning a downward trend. The analysis identified the strengths of the emirate's traffic system as the modern road networks and the human resources available. Threats identified in the study were dangerous driving and too high speed limits.

Weaknesses were traffic law, lack of awareness of traffic law, an overloaded police traffic department and a weakness of co-ordination between departments.

Since 2007, Dubai has increased the number of speed radars to cover the emirate, with one radar for every eight square kilometres.

Fines were increased in 2007 and 2008, and the number of violations for which a driver could be ticketed rose by 147.

The Roads and Transport Authority's Transport Safety Department said in January there were more than 4,000 potential safety hazards on Dubai roads.

The head of the Transport Safety Department, Eng Hussien al Bana, said road-safety auditing had helped to create a 32 per cent reduction in deaths since 2006 - from 21.7 per 100,000 to 8.2 last year.

"During the boom years we saw a spike in the number of road deaths, but since we implemented the road safety audit in 2007 it dropped sharply," he said.

amustafa@thenational.ae