Jaywalking puts lives at risk. Here is all you need to know about pedestrian safety in the UAE. Image Credit: Screenshot/Sharjah Police

Dubai: Subways, foot bridges and smart pedestrian crossings – the UAE has established innovative and easy-to-use ways for pedestrians to navigate roads safely. Yet, you will still find the odd jaywalker every now and again on UAE roads.

In 2021, 7,800 pedestrians in Abu Dhabi were fined for jaywalking, according to figures released by Abu Dhabi Police. A video compilation of all the jaywalking violations over the year, the police authority urged pedestrians to cross only at designated crossings or to use pedestrian tunnels, traffic lights and bridges.

Not only is crossing roads from undesignated places risky, it can also land you with a fine if you are caught jaywalking. So, here is all you need to know about pedestrian safety and the fines against jaywalking in the UAE. 

What is jaywalking?

The act of crossing a roadway from an undesignated area is referred to as jaywalking. Even if you are crossing the road at a designated pedestrian lane, it is important to be mindful of the traffic lights and only cross when the lights for pedestrian movement are green.

Why is it dangerous?

Police authorities across the UAE regularly raise awareness against crossing roads from undesignated places as it endangers the lives of pedestrians as well as motorists, and is one of the main causes of run over accidents. In 2018, Sharjah reported 30 deaths caused by pedestrians being run over by vehicles.

However, through dedicated awareness campaigns and an increase in pedestrian road infrastructure like footbridges, tunnels and zebra crossings, the number of pedestrian deaths has steadily decreased in the UAE. In 2020, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced that pedestrian fatalities had decreased by 76.5 per cent between 2007 and 2019, with 34 cases recorded in 2019.


Drop in pedestrian fatality in Dubai from 2007 to 2019

Jaywalkers are fined to discourage them and others from crossing roads from non-designated areas and drivers too are urged to comply with traffic signals and drive at appropriate speeds.

Last year, Abu Dhabi Police introduced new smart radars to detect jaywalkers and drivers who don't stop at pedestrian crossing points. Dubai, too, has introduced Smart Pedestrian Signals, which perceive pedestrian movement before they cross the street as well as while they are crossing it and takes into account the movement of vehicles to adjust timings and maximise pedestrian movement.

What are the fines you should be aware of?

The penalty for jaywalking is detailed in Federal Traffic Law Article No. 89.

Anyone caught crossing a roadway outside pedestrian lanes – Dh400.

Anyone caught crossing a roadway, while ignoring traffic lights – Dh400.

Not yielding to pedestrians

According to the UAE traffic law, motorists face a Dh500 fine and six black points if they do not give way to pedestrians in designated areas such as zebra crossings.

How to safely cross roads

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority provides the following safety tips for pedestrians to safely use roads:

1. Don’t be distracted when using a zebra crossing, and do not use your phone for calling or texting.

2. Avoid headphones while crossing the road. Be alert to what is going on around you to stay safe.

3. Stay alert, look and listen to traffic in all directions.

4. Cross streets at a corner, following traffic signals where available.

5. Where available use foot bridges.

6. Never cross the road when the pedestrian light is red.

7. Make eye contact and don't cross until traffic stops.

8. Wear reflective clothing at night.

9. If there are no sidewalks, walk while facing traffic to see the coming cars.