Abu Dhabi: An initiative to help familiarise visitors with road safety codes is under way, after the Abu Dhabi police found that traffic violations were common among tourists visiting the emirate.

During day two of the international symposium on "the role of the media in traffic safety", Major Saif Awad Al Beloushi, Head of Public Relations, Abu Dhabi Police Traffic and Patrols Directorate, told Gulf News that 180,000 new booklets in Arabic, English and Urdu — are currently being distributed across Abu Dhabi for free, by the Abu Dhabi Police.

The compact reference book, the Abu Dhabi Road Code 2011, will be available not only across malls and car rental offices, but at the Abu Dhabi Airport too.

The book contains practical advice about driving in Abu Dhabi — how to be safe and sensible on the road, detailing everything from filtering into a line of slow-moving traffic to the kind of child safety seat that should be used according to a child's age.

"We have noticed that many visitors are unfamiliar with our traffic regulations, and know that they do not mean to break any of our traffic codes. For that reason, we have decided to make available our traffic regulations for 2011 in every car rental office at the Abu Dhabi airport," said Major Al Beloushi.Common traffic offences among tourists, according to the traffic and patrols expert, include speeding and sudden change of lanes. "In efforts to curb these traffic offences, the booklet clearly familiarises new-comers to the country about our black-point regulations."

When speaking about the media's role in reporting traffic violations, the police official explained that research has indicated that 61 per cent of English and Arabic daily newspapers derive their information from the public relations office at the Abu Dhabi police, and that as little as 39 per cent of articles published include investigative reporting.

Top offenders

When speaking about the status of traffic safety in the press, K.M. Abbas, the editor in-charge of Sirag Malayalam, a newspaper in Dubai, admitted that most traffic violators across the UAE were Asian. "There are approximately 500,000 Asians across the UAE, they are the largest sector in the community, that's why most traffic violations are found amongst Asian people..."