Abu Dhabi: When Al Ain resident Mohammad Al Hajiri decided to visit the capital, the last thing he expected was to be pulled over and handed a certificate and a Dh1,000 cash prize.
"When I was told to pull over, I was shocked and a bit nervous. But I relaxed once the police officer smiled and told me that I was being rewarded for my good driving skills," the 28-year-old Emirati said.
"I haven't received a single fine since I began driving 14 years ago and this will definitely give me an incentive to continue being a good driver," Al Hajiri added.
The biennial campaign was launched by the Emirates Motorsport Federation and is organised by Ciel Marketing and Events. Its main sponsor is Caltex and its co-sponsors are AXA Insurance and AGMC-BMW, which also gifts child car seats to winners.
Since the launch of the campaign in 1998, over 1,000 drivers have received certificates as well as monetary and other rewards. The organisers will look for winners in Sharjah on Tuesday before the campaign heads back to Dubai for the remainder of the week.
"Since our campaigns usually use negative messages to warn drivers, those such as the Caltex Roadstar help to encourage drivers to follow traffic rules and regulations by providing a positive incentive. It is a nice change to reward good drivers instead of giving fines to those that break traffic laws," said Major Awad Saif Ahmad Al Beloushi, Head of Traffic and Patrols Directorate PR Section.
"Next year we are launching the ‘Teens in the Driver's Seat' campaign that will give teenagers a more interactive opportunity to see the different aspects of driving," he added.
Drivers are being awarded for following basic traffic safety regulations, such as driving within the speed limit, wearing seat belts, using child safety seats and indicator lights.
"I had never heard about the campaign so when I was stopped I didn't know what to expect. But I was really amazed that I was being rewarded for something that I take for granted [good driving]," Jameel Ziat, a small business owner from Syria, said. "My wife and I are expecting our first child just after Ramadan. The money and the car seat will definitely come in handy then."
Ziat also noted that since he moved to Abu Dhabi six years ago, he has received four fines in Dubai for driving a little over the speed limit there.
For Etsuko Yoshida, a Japanese homemaker, being pulled over and rewarded for good driving was a pleasant surprise.
"I'm so happy that I was chosen to receive this reward. I plan to donate it all towards helping victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Part of it will be donated directly to the Japanese embassy and part will go to my family who are living in Hokkaido, which is in northern Japan. Thankfully, they weren't really affected but hopefully the money will allow them to buy what they need," she said.
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