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Traffic jams in UAE: Two-thirds of kids go to school in private cars, says poll

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on December 8, 2020
(KT file photo)

In almost 80 per cent of cars, only one or two students are on board, according to the survey.

When schools are out, roads seem wider and morning drives feel a lot easier: A new survey confirms this trend, revealing that two-thirds of schoolkids in the UAE are being transported via private cars, and not school buses. It shows that the morning rush hour in the country is still highly related to parents driving kids to schools. And in almost 80 per cent of cars — only one or two students are on board.

The poll, led by RoadSafetyUAE in collaboration with Noor Takaful, added that 74 per cent of residents are dependent on cars. The data was gathered in March this year, with a UAE representative sample of 1,005 respondents.

“The high number of private cars used for school runs and the low utilisation — with mainly one or two children on board — adds to the morning congestion on the UAE roads,” said Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE.

“From a road safety perspective, we wish for fewer vehicles on the roads and we would like to see more students using school buses, public transportation and alternative forms of transport, where possible.”

Only 16 per cent of students join their school mates on those big yellow buses, according to the poll, and just six per cent of students use public transport.

If more kids would ride school buses, “the society would also benefit from reduced air pollution”, Edelmann said. “School buses operated by certified professional drivers are equipped with state-of-the-art safety features to safeguard our children and the per capita eco-footprint is much smaller compared to individual cars.”

Road safety experts are urging residents to look towards creative solutions and move away from individual transportation.

Rajesh Sethi, CEO of Dar Al Takaful, the holding company of Noor Takaful, said: “It is important to teach our children about sustainability and responsibility. We are a bit concerned to see a very high degree of individual traffic and very low utilisation of vehicles in school transportation.

“A high number of vehicles in rush hour can cause traffic congestion and also contributes to avoidable pollution. Ideally, we would like to see more sustainable school transportation as a responsibility show case for our children.”

Encouraging more families to maximise school bus transportation is also a fundamental part of the UAE’s 2030 vision that focuses on sustainability, de-carbonation, road traffic and congestion reduction.

Steve Burnell, Managing Director of School Transport Services (STS), said: “Continuous engagement with the education sector, parents and students on the benefits of the school bus, and public transport in general, is vital on many levels with the potential to deliver transformational change linked to health and wellbeing, sustainability and transport development.”

nandini@khaleejtimes.com





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