KT for Good: Keep calm and continue following the rules
Experts and many of KT readers have noted that the UAE is making good progress in increasing road safety.
KT's campaign to drive home the point that road safety is a collective responsibility ends today. During our 14-part campaign, we have had everyone from road safety experts to motorists, pedestrians, parents, teachers and doctors join us to advocate road safety. Drive safe and stay safe!
Every day in the past two weeks, we presented the facts and told stories of people losing lives and limbs due to road accidents. We also gave tips and laws and regulations governing transportation and the use of our roads. We promoted road safety and, more importantly, we asked the public how we can make an impact and carry out reforms to have a positive driving culture in the country.
We started strong and it is good to note that, generally, the majority of the UAE residents feel safe when driving on our roads. We asked on January 14: Do you feel safe when driving on UAE roads? Out of the 8,000 Khaleej Times readers who responded, 77 per cent or 6,160 said Yes while only 1,840 or 23 per cent said No.
This is indicative of the sound road infrastructure and strict enforcement of the law by the authorities.
Speeding, however, is a persistent big problem with some reckless drivers turning the roads into racetracks, as our readers observe.
We mentioned that in 2017, 230 people died due to speeding (almost half of the total 525 people who died in different types of road accidents), and in the same year, speeding resulted in 1,535 accidents. That's a disturbing figure that translates to 4.2 accidents daily.
The crashes actually went down from 1,787 accidents and 312 fatalities in 2016.
But the numbers are still high and we asked our readers: 'Should fines on speeding be increased?' Almost 10,000 Netizens replied to our poll and 40 per cent said Yes while 60 per cent said No.
We got almost the same results when we asked our readers: 'Should fines on tailgating on UAE roads be increased?' Out of the 3,100 Netizens polled, 48 per cent said Yes and a slightly bigger chunk or 52 per cent No.
The main contention is that spreading the culture of road safety through education and not imposing heftier fines is the key to improving the behaviour of motorists, our readers underlined.
"There should also be a collective change in the attitude of road users," explained Khalid Javed, training and technical consultant at Emirates Driving Institute. He added: "It is essential to spread awareness among the road users, utilising different resources to educate them, specifically youngsters and novice drivers."
An overwhelming majority of Khaleej Times readers said road safety education begins at home and that there should be a mandatory road safety content in the UAE school curriculum. Out of the 1,802 polled, 87 per cent said Yes while only 13 per cent said No to having classes on road safety for schoolchildren.
"We need to protect our kids today and we must make sure that when the kids get behind the wheel in a few years, we have already established the correct, positive safety habits in them," according to RoadSafetyUAE.
Another topic we tackled was about the "weaker users of the road" or the motorcycle riders. We noted that a total of 42 riders were killed and 89 were seriously injured from 682 motorcycle accidents in Abu Dhabi from 2013 to 2017, while 17 motorcycle riders were killed from 122 accidents that took place on Dubai roads in 2017.
We asked our readers: 'Should there be a dedicated lane for motorcycles on major inner-city highways like the Sheikh Zayed Road, the Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Road, Emirates Road and Al Khail Road to improve riders' safety?' An overwhelming 86 per cent or 2,236 of the 2,600 respondents said Yes while only 364 or 14 per cent said No.
"Segregating motorcyclists is a good idea as they are very vulnerable on Dubai's roads," said Ian Littlefield, training and quality manager at Dubai Driving Centre.
"It could be something like the high-occupancy lanes in the US or like the bus and taxi lanes here."
We also asked the motorists of their preventive safety routine. Do they inspect their car tyres and brakes before driving in bad weather? Out of the 1,038 respondents, 59 per cent said Yes while 41 per cent said No.
Road safety experts and many of Khaleej Times readers have noted that the UAE is making good progress in increasing road safety and in reducing the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities on our roads.
Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, said: "In order to improve road safety, it takes a permanent commitment from the stakeholders concerned - government entities, corporations, road users and the media. Khaleej Times has set a great example with this two-week media campaign which is very comprehensive in terms of topics covered and voices heard."
Littlefield said: "The #KTforGood campaign has started the year right by focusing on the key safety concern for Dubai as we lead up to 2020 when the eyes of the world will be on us."
"Readers should take away the message that road safety is everyone's business and that we can all be socially responsible drivers and riders by following very simple techniques: Give yourself the time to make your journey safely and the space to keep you and your passengers that way. Stay calm and treat others as you would like to be treated and we will all have a safe and prosperous 2019 and beyond."
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