Sharjah Police is to step up patrols to ensure motorists stop at crossings for pedestrians and to ensure people cross from designated places
Stop at zebra crossings or face fines, police warn drivers
Drivers are being told to respect the rules of the road and stop at zebra crossings for pedestrians.
In a country where such crossings are rendered almost useless as so many motorists do not stop for people, police are warning drivers to abide or face a Dh500 fine and six black points.
In a statement Sharjah Police posted on Instagram, they also urged pedestrians to stop crossing busy roads from undesignated places as, despite a drop in the number of crashes in the emirate, run-over accidents kill about 50 people a year.
“For your own safety, please use pedestrian crossings, traffic signals, or cross from near a police officer, who can stop traffic safely,” police said.
According to the federal traffic law that came into force in July, failing to give priority to pedestrians at zebra crossings incurs a fine and black points, while pedestrians who cross from undesignated areas can also be fined Dh200.
Brigadier Arif Al Sherif, deputy director of Sharjah Police Central Operations, said human losses resulting from traffic accidents is a great challenge, especially when young, productive members of society make up the highest percentage of victims.
“Sharjah Police is exerting great efforts to reduce the number of accidents, which mainly happen due to the careless behavior of drivers, therefore, we call on drivers to adhere to traffic regulations and respect the rights of others on the road and to prioritise pedestrians,” he said.
Drivers need to become more aware of their legal and social responsibilities when on the road, Brig Al Sherif added.
“The true challenge here is the lack of traffic safety culture among many - even women have been spotted climbing steel safety barriers on main roads in Sharjah then crossing from undesignated areas, which clearly reflects a lack of safety culture,” said Brigadier General Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, commander-in-chief of Sharjah Police, who also spoke of the continuous police awareness campaigns targeting motorists and pedestrians.
Yasser Muffelh, a 45-year-old Jordanian auditor, said that, when dropping his children at school, he parks on the opposite side of the road due to traffic congestions and, even though there is a pedestrian crossing, most drivers ignore him and others on foot.
“We can wait for more than 10 minutes until a driver would stop,” he said. “When a police officer is present, it’s apparent that motorists stop because they are forced to and not because they have traffic awareness that prompts them to prioritise pedestrians crossing roads.”
Thomas Edelmann, founder of the Road Safety UAE website, said that inconsiderate behavior of drivers is often the cause of incidents at zebra crossings.
“Drivers increase their speed when near junctions to beat the traffic light after it turns yellow; they don't care for pedestrians or other road users,” he said.
“We simply do not care for each other. Our driving culture is me-orientated and extremely egoistic. We must change our driving culture to a caring one as motorists tend to forget that once they step out of their vehicles, they are also pedestrians.
"People here are driving against each other while in other countries where safety culture is present, people drive with each other.
"It starts with education; schools should instill traffic safety values. Education plays a vital role and it will eventually produce a generation with a better road-safety culture."
From January 2016 to the end of January this year, 50 people were killed in run-over accidents in Sharjah, including a 33-year-old woman and her three-year-old daughter who died in June after being hit by a speeding car.
Twenty-two people were severely injured and 163 others suffered moderate to minor injuries in the emirate during the same period, which saw 11,343 people fined for crossing roads at undesignated areas.