x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Police use shock tactics to help curb road deaths

Officers trying to reduce casualties on the roads believe their latest adverts will hammer home the message to reckless motorists.

ABU DHABI // Police are using gruesome newspaper adverts to convince motorists of the dangers of reckless driving. The pictures show the effects of road crashes, including some horrific injuries. Among the first to be used is one depicting two X-ray images of cervical vertebrae - one is normal, the other has been fractured.

The text below the pictures says: "85 per cent of accidents in the UAE are caused by human error. This can include stopping suddenly, dangerous overtaking, careless lane changing and tailgating. Beware of others' faults". "This is the first time we are using the shock tactic in ads," said Major Amhed al Niyadi, the head of media and marketing for Abu Dhabi Police's traffic and patrols department. "We will shock the drivers who just want to go out and have fun on the roads."

The adverts are running as part of the Gulf Traffic Week road safety campaign. A series of more shocking adverts, with more explicit pictures, are on the way as part of the Ministry of Interior's strategy to make the roads safer, said Major al Niyadi. Most drivers did not seriously consider the consequences of careless or reckless driving, he said. "We need to show them real, shocking pictures so they will understand and believe what might happen to them," Major al Niyadi added.

According to the ministry, 963 motorists died in traffic accidents across the country last year, down from 1,072 in 2008. Police say that, nationwide, there has been a 10 per cent decrease in road deaths in the two years since the introduction of the black points system and tougher fines for motorists, in March 2008. However, the number of dead and injured is still high compared with many other countries.

Regarding the advert showing the broken back, Dr Yousif al Hosani, a public health physician at Zayed Military Hospital, said: "This will work with the young driver. They need something like this to evoke fear." However, Bernadette Bhacker, who runs the Salim and Salimah - or, Safe and Sound - road safety awareness campaign in Oman said the X-ray advert "seems to be attempting to address multiple behaviours. It has been proven you need to address one message at a time", she said.

"There is also no link between the purported message and the image." Some motorists were unsure of the advert's message. "You need to see the crash and what has happened," said Hamad Abdullah, a 32-year-old surveyor, who lives in Ras al Khaimah and works in Abu Dhabi. "If somebody cannot read, he cannot get the point." Christian Manalili, 28, from the Philippines, agreed the advert needed to be more explicit. "They should put the real situation," said Mr Manalili, who works at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.

However, Mahar Samara, 43, got the message. "It shows if you are in an accident that you will break bones," he said. Dalia Sufian, 26, a Palestinian-American media sales manager, said she was banned for three months when she was in collision with a jaywalker, who died. She had also lost her licence three times for reckless driving and speeding. She said: "If the ads are shocking enough, such as a picture of a dead person, I'll probably slow down for the day. By the next day, I'll go back to speeding."

When shown the x-ray advert, Mona Tamim, a 26-year-old Palestinian, who works in human resources, said: "They should put these on lampposts. If you're speeding and you see this, it'll be a wake up call to slow down." mchung@thenational.ae hdajani@thenational.ae