x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

UAE parents want more traffic enforcement in schools

One mother thinks schools should have some supervisors stand by, even police, as parents themselves drive carelessly or too quickly in school zones.

ABU DHABI // Salem Muhairy says the best place to show off his driving skills is at school, where dozens of boys cheer as he revs the engine of his new 4x4 in the car park.

He competes with other young drivers to see who can make their car backfire the loudest.

Salem does it "to make people happy". On the rare times staff at Al Nahda National School for Boys tell him to stop, the only reprimand is a call to his parents.

"They do nothing," says Salem, 18. "Because I'm their son."

Parents' tempers flare in the crowded car park as hundreds of students rush out of the gates.

"When two parents come they stop all the cars, and when they fight they start screaming and shouting and cursing, and then the kids learn this behaviour," says Ahmed Izzeldin, 17.

Ahmed has heard of injuries outside the school but was most upset when his friend's new Audi S8 was scratched in the heavy traffic. Supervisors take no action against bad drivers, he says.

"They play it like it's none of their concern," says Ahmed. "They say outside school you can do what you want.

"Kids in school, people with the new cars who just got their licence, they're drifting and stuff. I drive carelessly, of course, but when we see the police we drive carefully."

Parents want more enforcement.

"The problem is from the parents, not from the parking," says a mother who does not give her name. "The people they are not giving way to the children, they are driving so fast. I think the school should have some supervisors stand by, even police."

The school has 1,500 pupils from Grades five to 12. There are at least three staff who supervise the traffic, says the school director Adnan Abbas.

"Our role as educators is to educate people, to tell them what is right and wrong and their role in community," says Mr Abbas.

"When traffic is rushed sometimes we are coordinating with traffic police, but you know we don't need it because we are handling it ourselves in the school."

Mr Abbas says the school would be reluctant to photograph drivers, even with official approval.

"We would like to coordinate with police and other agencies but it is not our duty to take photos," he says.