Dubai: Every second counts while driving and even a momentary distraction could result in loss of lives, senior traffic and police officials said on Tuesday, kicking off a road safety campaign.
The campaign was launched by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), in cooperation with Dubai Police.
"While driving, even a few moments of distraction — sending text messages, looking at pictures on the phone or getting upset over a phone conversation — could result in fatalities," Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, said.
The campaign hopes to address three main areas of concern: speeding, use of mobile phones during driving and seat belts, Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, said.
"The persistent efforts of authorities have paid off in significantly bringing down traffic fatalities," he said.
"In 2007, traffic fatalities hit 21.7 cases per every hundred thousand of the population. The number declined to about 12.7 cases per hundred thousand of the population in 2009 — which is a 54.2 per cent drop."
"The fatalities further dropped to eight cases per hundred thousand of population in 2010, and this year it is expected to hit seven cases per hundred thousand of population by the end of this year," said Al Tayer.
Major General Al Mazeina said that police will strengthen enforcement and mete out fines to traffic rule violators.
Dr Aisha Al Busmait, Director of RTA Marketing and Corporate Communication, said that the campaign will be held under the slogan — I won't let it happen.
"It focuses on sending a message to passengers which calls on them to shoulder their responsibility in rectifying the negative practices of drivers," she said
The campaign will reach out to all segments of the society through a wide spectrum of media and venues such as social media websites, malls, cinema halls, hoardings and brochures.
The RTA will hold workshops and lectures at various colleges, schools, public and private organisations, and shopping malls besides publishing ads in various visual, audio and written media outlets, Dr Aisha said.
A 70.3 per cent drop in pedestrian deaths has also been achieved over the years, Al Tayer said, attributing this to several awareness campaigns, in addition to the construction of 67 footbridges.
Pedestrian deaths stood at 145 cases in 2007 while in 2010 the number of deaths were 43.
Commenting on the importance of awareness campaigns, Engineer Hussain Al Banna, Director of Traffic, at RTA's Traffic and Roads Agency, said that 85 to 90 per cent of accidents are a result of human error. "Hence it is imperative to increase awareness," he said.