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A man talks on the mobile phone while driving Gulf News archives Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: Eighty five people died in heavy-duty truck related incidents in Abu Dhabi last year and 90 per cent of these accidents happened due people using mobile phones while driving, an official from Abu Dhabi Police told Gulf News.

Captain Ahmad Abdullah Al Muhairi from the General Directorate of Abu Dhabi Police was speaking on the sidelines of an ‘Eyes on the Road’ programme for truck drivers - held in association with Abu Dhabi Police, Abu Dhabi Ports, Al Masaood and Bridgestone, at Khalifa Port in Abu Dhabi recently. The programme offers free health checkups for UAE truck drivers, while reminding them of traffic rules.

“Last year about 85 people including truck drivers died in accidents only involving heavy-duty trucks in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, but the numbers have gone down compared to previous years,” said Al Muhairi.

90 per cent of these accidents were caused by people using their phone while driving

- 'Eyes on the Road'

“At Abu Dhabi Police we have discovered that about 90 per cent road accidents happen due to people talking on the phone while driving,” he added. “Sometimes the truckers remain unhurt but others who drive smaller vehicles die in collisions with heavy trucks, so truck drivers need to exercise high caution while driving and protect their lives and lives of other road users, and follow road traffic rules.”

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Trucks on Abu Dhabi Al Ain truck road from Mussaffah to Dubai. Gulf News archives

Al Muhairi said accidents caused by truck drivers were decreasing on the whole, but accidents ranged from five to 10 a month and could hit 15 a month in Abu Dhabi alone.

“We have conducted more than 200 meetings so far this year with heavy truck drivers, and educated over 70,000 people about road safety norms,” he added.

Heavy trucks and lorry drivers who cover long distances inside the country and very often travel to neighbouring countries with loads of goods, must adhere to road traffic rules, Al Muhairi said.

Small car drivers break road traffic rules and pay fines but heavy truck drivers who violate rules are consulted before they pay the fines, he said.

A penalty of Dh800 is levied on truckers for talking over phone while driving, they also get six black points on their licence.

He suggested truckers regularly check the condition of their tyres and change them when needed as trucks carry heavy loads over long distances in all weather, even travelling to neighbouring countries as well.

“These drivers have come to the UAE to raise money for their families back home and they must be watchful for their own lives and the lives of others as well. If the breadwinner happens to crash his truck, he will be hospitalised and may die in horrific crashes, so who will support their families and children?” he said.

A 52-year-old Pakistani driver, Saeed Ghani got a free eye test at Khalifa Port on Sunday.

“Since they provide a free eye check-up for drivers I thought I’d get it tested,” he said. “It’s good for drivers to always get their eye-sight examined.”

The campaign was organised in collaboration with police authorities across Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in addition to Abu Dhabi Ports. Bridgestone’s partners Al Masaood and Al Serkal were also part of the activation.

Through this campaign Bridgestone highlighted the importance of health and safety for truck drivers given the long hours they put in on the roads. Improper health conditions could lead to a lack of concentration which in turn can have catastrophic consequences for truck drivers, motorists and passing pedestrians.