Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 7 July 2020

Tragic Dubai school death prompts call for road safety action

Insiya Vajihi, 4, died outside Greenfield International School in Jebel Ali

Greenfield International School. Leslie Pableo / The National
Greenfield International School. Leslie Pableo / The National

Latest: Female motorist arrested after death of child, 4, outside Dubai school

Parents and road safety campaigners have called for improved traffic measures outside schools following the death of a four-year-old girl in Dubai.

Insiya Vajihi, 4, died after being struck by a vehicle in the car park of Greenfield International School in Jebel Ali on Monday.

Police have said the motorist was reversing at the time of the incident and accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake.

Since the tragedy, numerous parents in the UAE have been quick to condemn poor driving habits around schools.

“I work in a school and the driving that I witness is unbelievable,” wrote Suzanne Arruda on social media.

“Parents speeding or cutting others off, usually at the point where poor traffic guards stand. Parents jumping curbs to park illegally. Kids not belted in.

“There should be police placed at each school at drop-off and collection times to monitor the behaviour of traffic flow.

“Police cameras [should be] installed and drivers severely dealt with on violations. This is a public safety issue and our children should be priority number one.”

Police have also tweeted a fresh warning to motorists to strictly abide by traffic rules near school premises.

The horrific accident outside Greenfield International School happened at about 3.40pm on Monday, according to police officers.

Three cars were damaged in the tragedy, with both mother and child crushed between the moving vehicle and a parked car.

The pair were rushed to the NMC Royal Hospital near the Green Community in Dubai Investments Park for emergency treatment.

Medics were unable to save Insiya while her mother suffered a broken leg in the incident. She is expected to undergo an operation on Tuesday evening.

“The mother is not in the best emotional state but from a clinical point of view she is stable with a fractured femur,” a hospital source told The National.

“Her injury requires an operation and the plan is to perform surgery this [Tuesday] evening. It is a straight forward injury, a very common fracture in road traffic accidents.”

The death of Insiya is the second fatality to occur outside a school in Dubai in recent weeks.

In October, security guard Lil Bahador Pariyar was killed when another motorist also accidentally stepped on the accelerator, ploughing into him.

The Nepalese worker had been directing school traffic at pick-up time outside the Universal American School in Festival City.

Police are still investigating the incident and it is not yet known if any action has been taken against the driver.

Police published a photograph showing a car had reversed into other parked vehicles outside the school. Courtesy: Dubai Police
Police published a photograph showing a car had reversed into other parked vehicles outside the school. Courtesy: Dubai Police

Speaking on Tuesday, Thomas Edelman, from the campaign group Road Safety UAE, said more needed to be done to address safe driving around schools.

He claimed higher numbers of parents opting to send their children to school on the school bus would help reduce accidents.

He also said an increase in the use of lollipop staff to supervise school crossings could assist.

“The most important aspect of this is the mindset of parents,” he said. “Safe behaviour that anticipates the movements of others cannot be underestimated.

“There is a relatively low school bus penetration in the UAE, so there is a lot of pick and drop off traffic.

“Infrastructure is not designed for that which creates heavy congestion.”

Mr Edelman suggested marked pick-up and drop-off zones should be considered around all schools.

“There is an opportunity to mark lanes for temporary parking areas on the road at busy times,” he said.

“Schools and communities can play a bigger role with lollipop crossing supervisors.

“These can be volunteers. We know it works elsewhere in the world like Austria and the UK. It is about being more creative with road safety. The solutions are out there.”

Paul Slater, responsible for heath and safety at GEMS Education, said it was critical schools worked together to improve road safety.

“The effective management of traffic in and around schools is of paramount importance," he said.

"We ensure an adequate number of trained staff are present during drop off and pick up times. It’s also vital that we educate our school communities on the importance of road safety.

"This is achieved through various campaigns and the sharing of best practices.”

Updated: November 6, 2019 04:01 PM



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