Abu Dhabi - Road accidents are the 'number two killer' in the country.
The 'Aqdar Drive Safely' campaign aimed at students across the UAE was launched at Zayed University on Monday.
Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, opened the joint awareness programme held by Khalifa Students Empowerment Programme 'Aqdar' and Nissan Middle East. Minister of State for Tolerance Shaikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi also graced the occasion.
The theme for this year focuses on the usage of mobile phones while driving.
It is a university student-driven initiative that is being held in collaboration with 'RoadSafteyUAE'. The initiative 'for students by students' empowers university ward to become 'agents of change' in their communities.
And reactions from students at the Convention Centre suggested the programme is on the right track.
The testimony came in the form of Zayed University senior student council president Naser Al Mansoori.
"I use the mobile phone while driving, but after attending this session, I am surely not going to repeat such acts again," he told Khaleej Times.
A video was released during the event which showed a member disappearing from photos of family or friends, implying a loved one lost to accidents. The video struck a chord with the youngsters in the hall.
"I will take steps to spread the word. I neither want my friends nor anyone to die on roads," Al Mansoori said. "It's mostly youth getting killed in road accidents and majority due to use of mobile phones. This initiative will enlighten the youth against use of mobile phones while driving and thus avoid accidents. Such distractions cause death at the end and no one wants that."
Thomas Edelmann, RoadSafetyUAE founder and managing-director, said using mobile phones during driving summarise all the four major forms of distraction.
"Firstly, you are taking your eyes off the road. Secondly, you are taking your hands off the wheels when it comes to texting. Thirdly, phones take your mind away from what's happening around you and lastly there is auditory distraction and you may not hear sound around like horns."
Road accidents are the 'number two killer' in the country, he said.
"Unfortunately youth are very affected by this."
Nissan Middle East managing director Samir Cherfan said the company focuses on 'zero emission and zero fatalities'.
"About 92 per cent of the UAE's youth is stating that they are distracted by their own behaviour. Only about 38 per cent see link between distracted driving and accidents. And this is something that needs to be overcome," he pointed out.
There were three competitions launched: Road Safety Campaign of the Year, Road safety Mobile App of the Year and Road Safety Sculpture of the Year.
The first prize in each category is Dh30,000. Nissan Middle East will also offer winners a chance to work on implementing their ideas and also give them financial aid.