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3.46 road deaths per 100,000 population so far this year

New traffic law, unified campaigns leading to fewer fatalities across UAE, says a top officer

Gulf News

Dubai: One of the top traffic police officers of the country is looking to have fewer deaths on the roads by the end of the year.

Major-General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, head of the Federal Traffic Council and Assistant Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police for Operations Affairs, said 396 people died on UAE roads in the first nine months of this year as compared to 529 deaths during the same period last year.

“[The fatality rate] has dropped by 25 per cent so far but we still have three more months to go. Last year, we had 6.1 deaths per 100,000 population and our goal now is to reach five deaths per 100,000 population by the end of the year,” Maj-Gen Al Zafein said.

In the last nine months, the UAE recorded 3.46 deaths per 100,000 population, but Maj-Gen Al Zafein said it was too early to be happy with the numbers.

“We still have three more months to go this year, and the number might go up. According to our goal, we need to bring down [fatalities] to five deaths per 100,000 population, otherwise we (Federal Traffic Council) would have failed in our plan.”

Recently, Maj-Gen Al Zafein toured through the most deadly roads in the UAE, including Maliha Road, to formulate plans to reduce the number of casualties in traffic accidents. “Sharjah Police have done a good job of reducing the numbers. Unifying awareness campaigns across the country also helped in bringing down the number of casualties,” he said.

Maj-Gen Al Zafein praised the new traffic law, which came into effect on July 1, saying it had helped in spreading traffic education in the society at large and not just among drivers.

“Now you see parents asking their children to wear seat belts because they are aware of the new fines and this makes children think automatically of strapping the seat belt when they get into the car,” he said.

Maj-Gen Al Zafein narrated an incident wherein, while waiting at a signal, he spotted an Asian woman seated in the front seat carrying her child in her lap. “I stopped [the family] and told them that it is not safe for the child and I asked the woman to sit in the rear seat and she complied. Her husband realised that it is risky to do such things and that it is against the law.”

Meanwhile, regular meetings between Dubai Police and consulates of countries such as India, Pakistan, the Philippines, China, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are being held to find mechanisms by which awareness lectures can be held to educate expatriates from these countries on the best driving practices.

“We are cooperating with the consulates to create awareness [about the new traffic law]. We want everyone to be aware of the new fines so they can avoid traffic offences,” Maj-Gen Al Zafein said.