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Dubai: Road safety experts are warning drivers to pay more attention while parking after a spate of recent accidents in Dubai.

Last month, a four-year-old Indian girl was killed when a car reversed into her and her mum outside Greenfields International School in Jebel Ali.

A month earlier, a Nepalese security guard was killed outside Universal American School in Festival City after a woman lost control while parking, while an Asian man also died after reversing off the third floor of a multi-storey car park in Cargo Village at Dubai Airport a few days later. A similar incident had also killed a British woman when she reversed off a six storey multi-storey in Abu Dhabi four years ago.

Disorientation problem

Thomas Edelmann from Road Safety UAE, said, “It seems people are mixing up their pedals, so there is a disorientation problem. Parking deserves full attention. It’s a potential high risk, high stress situation, that requires you to stay super alert at all times.

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Thomas Edelman, Founder and Managing Director, Road Safety UAE - GN ARCHIVE

“From driving into a dimly lit underground or multi-storey car park, that is a different light to that of the brightness of outside, to parking outside in different scenarios, especially around schools and residential areas, where there are pedestrians and children present, you have to stay alert and be extra careful of your surroundings.

“It doesn’t always involve a high speed incident to result in tragic circumstances, parking too can take a toll, so you shouldn’t get complacent and think that now you’ve turned off the road and reached your destination, you can just relax. Never let your guard down as parking can be just as dangerous.”

Ian Littlefield of Roadslink Training Centre agreed, “If you are driving a big heavy vehicle that you are not used to, then take a minute to look at and understand the pedals in the footwell. Confusion usually arises when people switch vehicles particularly from a manual to an automatic one.

“At a school, it is recommended not to park close to the school gates because you are ruining sight lines and making it difficult and dangerous for everyone else. Remember these places are busy, so don’t be in a hurry, take your time, a few extra seconds are not going to make you late for work, running someone over will.

Correct footwear

“Always drive with the correct footwear, flip flops and high heels can get wedged around pedals, make people panic and press the wrong pedal. To avoid that, we recommend keeping a pair of comfortable flat driving shoes in the car.

“Whether you are manouvering in a heavily pedestrianised area or not, phones must always stay in your pocket while driving, no call is so important that it claims a life.

“Finally don’t rush, take your time and think about your safety and the safety of others, wherever you can reverse into a space don’t drive, so that when you come to drive out you can see a safe exit.”

Safety campaigns

At the start of the school year, Dubai Police and Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority held ‘a day of no accidents’ to encourage safer driving as children returned to class.

In the wake of recent school incidents, a string of Dubai schools have sent out their own circulars reminding parents to stay alert especially in school zones. One school in Al Nahda for example said the safety and security of students is top priority, so the management sought support from parents in cooperating with traffic control personnel on duty outside the school. It also requested parents to exercise patience, caution and focus on the road while driving and not park their vehicles haphazardly while picking up or dropping off their wards.