x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Dubai traffic chief warns companies to ensure driver safety

Dubai Police traffic chief says companies that transport labourers have a responsibility to make sure their drivers are not overtired, in light of crash that killed 13 last week.

Col Saif Al Mazrouei, of Dubai Police, says lorries parked on the roadside are the cause of a large number of accidents. Antonie Robertson / The National
Col Saif Al Mazrouei, of Dubai Police, says lorries parked on the roadside are the cause of a large number of accidents. Antonie Robertson / The National

DUBAI // The director of the emirate’s traffic police has warned companies to ensure drivers get more rest after 13 labourers were killed in a crash last week.

Col Saif Al Mazrouei, director of the General Department of Traffic, said drivers and their employers had a responsibility to ensure buses transporting labourers were as safe as possible.

In light of the crash on Saturday morning on Emirates Road, when a bus carrying labourers ploughed into a stationary lorry, he said companies must monitor their drivers and make sure they are getting enough rest in between road trips.

“We have told companies that drivers of heavy vehicles cannot be on the road for long periods of time. Driving a lorry or a bus can be extremely tiring and is more difficult than a small vehicle,” Col Al Mazrouei said. “In Europe, after six hours of driving, a truck driver must take at least two hours to rest. We cannot have someone waking up at four o’clock in the morning and driving until the evening.”

The director highlighted a case where a minibus was parked on the hard shoulder of Sheikh Zayed Road and the driver as well as all the passengers were asleep.

“This is extremely dangerous,” he said. “If you are tired, you can rest on the side of a road but make sure it is in a safe place.”

Col Al Mazrouei on Tuesday also announced that 69 people had died on Dubai’s roads in the first four months of this year, up from 60 in the same period last year. This figure does not take into account the 13 deaths on Emirates Road.

“We have had fewer accidents this year but more fatalities,” he said.

Dubai Police recorded 932 traffic accidents between January and April this year, a decrease from 1,008 over the same period last year.

Col Al Mazrouei said Dubai Police continued to work to raise awareness of the dangers of reckless driving, particularly when it came to heavy-duty vehicles.

“With the help of the Labour Ministry, we collected the names of companies and various establishments and recorded the number of workers they have and launched an awareness campaign.”

Col Al Mazrouei said that more than 3,500 workers benefited from the campaign.

The problem behind most accidents involving heavy vehicles was not due to lack of training of the drivers but of negligence, he said.

“It is sometimes negligence on the driver’s part. A big number of accidents are a result of lorries parked on the side of major highways – this is an individual’s decision and nothing to do with training,” he said.

The director also highlighted the issue of vehicles transporting too many people at once or for carrying tools and hazardous materials when they should not.

“We have seen cases of buses carrying people and, in the vehicle, there are also tools that are hazardously being transported,” he said, pointing to cases of buses carrying petrol alongside passengers.

“If, God forbid, there was an accident, the passengers may not have been affected by the crash but by the tools and materials being transferred in the vehicle.”

Despite there being issues with the transportation of labourers, Col Al Mazrouei said speeding remained the most frequent offence that Dubai Police encounters.

“Speeding is our biggest problem and leads to the most accidents, followed by motorists who enter intersections or roads without clearing their way. These two offences lead to the most fatalities,” he said. “There are also many cases of people not leaving enough distance between vehicles and of people crossing the roads in undesignated areas.

“Even smaller offences, such as not wearing your seat belt, can lead to serious injuries or fatalities.”

Col Al Mazrouei reiterated Dubai Police’s preventative stance when launching awareness campaigns.

“We are keen to protect the lives of people and not simply be a disciplinary force.”

dmoukhallati@thenational.ae