Dubai: Police patrols have stepped up their vigil to curb reckless driving in Dubai even as a number of traffic campaigns try to take the message to the public, according to Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of the General Department of Traffic at Dubai Police.
Traffic patrols and officers focus on motorists involved in very serious violations that affect the safety of road users in general, Al Zafein told Gulf News in an interview on Tuesday.
The police traffic department has been regularly carrying out campaigns to raise awareness among the general public on safe driving habits. Penalties for aggressive driving that leads to an accident vary depending on the severity of the crash.
Speeding too is punishable by black points and a fine.
Al Zafein said that police officers are being stationed, as per a plan launched by the department, in areas where crashes and violations occur more frequently. He said that the department had set up a team to quickly apprehend drivers who jump red lights, exceed speed limits, drive aggressively or on the hard shoulder, or change lanes in a reckless manner.
The patrols are deployed in different areas of Dubai with an officer in a military uniform being assigned to each vehicle. This is aimed at sending a strong message to motorists to respect traffic rules, Al Zafein said. “There are violations that cannot be monitored by radars or cameras, such as tailgating and failure to leave a safe distance, which many young drivers commit on purpose to intimidate other road users; drivers caught tailgating were issued tickets and warned not to repeat the offence.
“We are targeting the youth because they are often the cause, as well as the victims, of fatal accidents. We carried out awareness programmes to educate motorists about policies against reckless driving and breaking traffic rules,” he said.
Al Zafein said that 5.85 per cent of all road deaths last year involved mini buses.
He said that 87 accidents involving mini buses last year had resulted in the death of seven people and caused injuries to 179 people, 15 of whom sustained serious injuries — the accident rate increased with the number of passengers travelling in minibuses.
On Monday, two workers were killed and 17 injured when two minibuses collided on the Dubai by-pass road near Al Ruwayia area.
“It is classified as a lightweight vehicle which could be driven by anyone with the average light vehicle licence,” said Major General Al Zafein. “The minibus doesn’t have the basic safety features present in other vehicles. It holds around 14 passengers seated very close to each other and shouldn’t be used to transport passengers as its structure is not strong enough to hold this number of passengers. This vehicle is unstable and it could deceive the driver,” he said.
The maximum number of passengers a minibus can carry was reduced to nine from 16, but this rule has been largely ignored.
Major General Al Zafein said that, last year, 20,313 traffic fines were issued by Dubai Police for jumping red lights, compared to 22,543 violations in 2011. “Jumping a red traffic signal is one of the most dangerous and deadly traffic violations,” he said.
He said that 224 traffic accidents caused by people jumping red signals last year had led to seven deaths last year and caused injuries to 315 persons. In 2011, 200 such accidents led to eight deaths and left 228 persons injured.