dubai AMBULANCE generic
An ambulance in a traffic jam in Deira. Image Credit: Gulf News archives

Dubai: Officials have slammed motorists in Dubai for not giving way to emergency vehicles, saying that every second matters to save a life during emergencies.

Dubai Police in coordination with concerned authorities launched a three-month campaign - ‘Give Way..Give Hope’ - in Dubai yesterday to raise awareness among motorists to change their ways.

Major General Ali Abdullah Al Gaithi, acting assistant commander-in-chief for operation affairs, said that giving way to emergency vehicles must become a cultural norm among all drivers in the UAE.

“Some road users just don’t make way for emergency vehicles. It is very important for drivers to know how to give a way. If the motorists cooperate with us then we will have better emergency response timings and save people’s lives,” Maj Gen Al Gaithi said in a press conference at Dubai Police headquarters in Al Qusais area.

Brigadier Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, director of Traffic Department at Dubai Police, said that in July this year, the penalty for not giving way to emergency and convoy vehicles increased to Dh3,000, with the vehicle being confiscated for 30 days and six black points being slapped on the motorist.

He said 121 offences were recorded in 2019 in this context. Dubai Police fined 166 motorists in 2018, against 247 the previous year.

“Although the number of offences has come down, it is still a high figure. Any delay for an emergency vehicle may kill a person who is in need of help,” Brig Al Mazroui said.

Motorists who follow emergency vehicles will be fined for sudden swerving or other traffic offences too.

“If a motorist at a red signal moves his car to the yellow box to give way to an emergency vehicle, he won’t be fined for crossing the red signal. We have cameras on all Dubai signals and the fine will automatically get cancelled,” he added.

Radio warnings

Khalifa Bin Drai, executive director of the Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services (DCAS), said motorists will be warned about emergency vehicles through broadcast message sent through radio.

“We are experimenting with a new system to warn drivers about approaching emergency vehicles by sending a voice message on radio,” Bin Drai said.

He said despite Dubai having 111 ambulance points, the challenge of response time remained because of lack of cooperation from motorists.

“Our ambulances suffer sometimes as motorists do not give way or chase the ambulance which cause traffic accidents. Every second matters in saving lives,” he added.

Colonel Ali Hassan Al Mutawa, assistant director for Fire and Rescue at Dubai Civil Defence, said two such accidents occurred recently when motorists did not allow civil defence vehicles to pass during emergencies.

“We noticed some drivers, especially motorcyclists, chasing the emergency vehicles and not leaving a safe distance between them. It resulted in two accidents. Sometimes there are people trapped in a fire and firefighters need to reach the scene as soon as possible to rescue them,” Col Al Mutawa said.

Brigadier Dr Mohammad Nasir Al Razooqi, director of the Rescue and Transport Department in Dubai Police, said emergency vehicles have cameras that can spot violaters following which fines will be levied on them.

Training drivers

Mohammad Nabhan, director of Motorists Training Department at Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), said new drivers will be specially educated on how to give way to emergency vehicles.

“Driving schools will teach new drivers about what they should do in such situations. It will be part of the RTA strategy,” Nabhan said.

Butti Al Felasi, director of Security Awareness Department at Dubai Police, said, “We will also train emergency vehcile drivers as well as drivers working with companies. Campaign flyers will also be distributed to new drivers,” Al Felasi said.

The campaign is in four languages and special stands have been set up at shopping centres to educate residents.

“We will have four consulates working with Dubai Police to help us educate communities,” he added.

How to give way to an emergency vehicle

On highways: If you are on the left lane on a main road, move to the right to give way for emergency vehicles which use the left lane

On Internal roads: Emergency vehicles make their way between vehicles, so motorists should give way by moving to the left of right

At intersections: Give way by moving to the left or right

At red signal: emergency vehicles may cross and proceed after a brief stop, so give way without crossing the red signal.

At roundabouts: Emergency vehicles enter the roundabout cautiously, so help give way by not entering the roundabout.

If you are already inside the roundabout, then keep moving, exit the roundabout and move to the right lane at the earliest opportunity

General Instructions: Don’t follow emergency vehicles

  • Don’t use the road shoulders at all times
  • Don’t cross the pedestrian crossing area when you see or hear emergency vehicles approaching
  • Don’t cross the red signal when you see emergency vehicles approaching

The fine for not giving way to emergency and convoy vehicles is Dh3,000 with six black points and vehicle being impounded for 30 days.