Pupils take part in the traffic campaign at Al Aqsa Primary School, Dubai. Dubai Police are working to slash road deaths to a target of less than 130 fatalities this year. Image Credit: Asghar Khan/Gulf News

Dubai: Police's efforts to reduce road deaths to zero per 100,000 people annually by 2020 are making great strides amid UN reports that vehicle fatalities are on the rise in other emerging countries, statistics reveal.

Col. Jamal Mohammad Al Bannai, Assistant Director of General Traffic Department, Dubai Police, in a keynote address at the Gulf Traffic conference in Dubai early yesterday, said stepped-up highway patrols and early intervention through educating young people appear to be reducing the number of needless deaths on emirate roadways.

"Our target is zero deaths by 2020," Al Bannai told Gulf News in an interview. "Compared to the past, it is getting better. Some people may say zero is impossible but it is worth it to try."

Statistics compiled by Dubai Police strongly suggest that highways and roadways in Dubai are becoming safer judging by a substantial decline in the number of road deaths in the last three years.

The declining figures were recorded at a time when the UAE's population ballooned past an unsurpassed eight million people.

In 2009, Dubai Police recorded 225 road deaths across the emirate compared to last year when traffic fatalities dropped by 69 deaths for a total of 156 fatalities on emirate highways and roads.

Crackdown

In 2011, Dubai Police have worked to slash road deaths to a target of less than 130 fatalities for the year, said Al Bannai, and it appears that police are on target; statistics reveal that in the first 10 months of this year, there were 111 fatalities on Dubai roads.

"Over the years, the numbers are going down," Al Bannai said, adding there's still a great deal of work to do to cut deaths even further.

Dubai Police are cracking down on errant drivers who speed, drive recklessly endangering the lives of others and who suddenly change lanes without signalling.

"Traffic laws are very strict," Al Bannai said.

Dubai Police are also very much in prevention mode by sharing police traffic specialists with schools and universities to impart core elements of safe-driving practices.

Growing carnage

Al Bannai said police are "concentrating on youth at schools, university. If you can teach the child now to respect traffic, when they grow up it is much easier for them."

Dubai's progress toward safer roads unfortunately is not being mirrored in other fast-growing developing nations where growing carnage on highways is forecast thanks to vehicle sales that are expected to more than double over the next seven years.