Happiness Patrol police
Happiness Patrol police reward motorists in Abu Dhabi for their good driving behaviour and following road traffic rules. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Police

Abu Dhabi: Engaging community, rewarding motorists and appreciating their safe driving attitudes are latest mantra of Abu Dhabi Police to motivate people towards safe driving and help police reducing road accidents.

A police siren behind motorists can scare any motorist on the road but Abu Dhabi Police stop them to reward for following the road traffic rules, wearing seat belts and adhering to speed limits for their own safety and safety of other road users.

The initiative of Happiness Patrol of Abu Dhabi Police started in October 2016, currently making waves worldwide as more than 2.7 million people watched a Happiness Patrol video within six days, which was posted by a citizen, Khalid Al Ameri on his Facebook page.

These developments prompted Gulf News to conduct an interview with a Happiness Patrol official to find out their efforts in making the city’s roads safe, secure and accidents free.

Rewards are distributed to passengers in private and public transport vehicles, and pedestrians as well. Those who violate a minor traffic rule are issued a yellow card as reminder of the violation. Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Police

Speaking to Gulf News on Thursday, Captain Salem Al Menhali, Head of Happiness Patrol Project at Abu Dhabi Police, said, “The Abu Dhabi Police Happiness Patrol is a patrol that was created in the spirit of spreading happiness and positivity among road-users in the community by rewarding those exhibiting safe and courteous behaviour. Rewards are distributed to drivers, passengers in private and public transport vehicles, and pedestrians in Abu Dhabi emirate.

“The patrol monitors the road approach deserving community members and present them with a ‘happiness voucher’ (gift voucher) and appreciation certificates, he said.

“Rewarding road-users for good behaviour is a unique approach to road safety. While penalising for misconduct on the roads is the norm for a police patrol, using a reward system as positive reinforcement to inspire good behaviour is an innovative approach and one that enables us to spread the spirit of positivity in an unconventional way.”

Regarding fines for motorists who are found violating traffic rules, Capt Al Menhali said, “In the spirit of the initiative, even if you have violated any minor traffic rule, the happiness patrol officer will just issue a yellow card as reminder of the violation, and use the opportunity to encourage the road-user to obey rules and regulations.”

For example, a yellow card will be issued for changing lanes without an indicator, incorrect parking or using a pedestrian crossing incorrectly.

“When we first began the Happiness Patrol there was often relief and happiness expressed by road-users. But as the community has become more accustomed to our vehicles and role, we are more often greeted with a smile than an expression of surprise,” he said.

Capt Al Menhali expressed his gratitude to the leadership of the country for their support of such an innovative initiative.

Another official spokesperson of the Abu Dhabi Police, said: “The Happiness Patrol has resonated in such a positive way both locally and internationally, highlighting the need to relentlessly seek innovative and positive ways to encourage safe behaviour in the community.

“While the objective of the patrol is to inspire road users to follow traffic rules, the concept itself speaks to a broader belief in the police that we are one community, and we collectively benefit when we all embrace Abu Dhabi’s positive community spirit,” the spokesperson said.

“We hope that by bringing smiles to road users’ faces, they share their experience with others and spread the road safety message in a uniquely positive way,” the official said.