Dubai: Despite concerted efforts by authorities to improve road safety, pedestrian fatalities went up last year, with 49 deaths, up from 33 in 2015 in Dubai.
The increase has brought the focus back on pedestrian safety as the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) launched an awareness campaign on Sunday as part of the Gulf Traffic Week.
“Safety is always our highest priority and over the years road deaths have come down through a collaborative efforts between the RTA, Dubai Police and the Ministry of Interior, but last year, despite our efforts, we saw a rise in pedestrian deaths due to various reasons and we are tackling this issue through elaborate safety strategy,” said Hussain Al Banna, executive eirector of RTA’s Traffic and Roads and Agency.
He added that though Dubai roads are still the safest in the Middle East, run-over deaths account for 30 per cent of road deaths, which added up to 198 last year.
According to Al Banna, Dubai registered one pedestrian fatality per 100,000 of the population last year, up from 0.6 per 100,000 in 2015.
Apart from creating awareness among all stakeholders, including drivers and pedestrians, he said, RTA is also introducing a slew of safety measure near schools and other high-risk areas.
Among the safety measures planned for this year include 10 new pedestrian bridges at key locations as well as 15 more smart crossings that will help improve safety by 17 per cent.
“We have established a safety strategy, which looks into all aspects of increasing the level of safety. We are coming up with improved infrastructure for pedestrians as well as creating awareness among the drivers as well as the pedestrians,” added Al Banna.
Dubai currently has 114 pedestrian bridges, up from 14 ten years ago, with more crossings provided in areas where high number of jaywalking cases have been recorded.
“Areas around labour accomodations continue to be most risk prone for pedestrians with high number of run-over cases due to jaywalking and we are tackling this by carrying out sustained educational programmes at labour camps apart from building crossings and fences,” said Al Banna.
One aspect that has seen continued improvement is that school zones have witnessed zero fatalities over the last few years.
“We continue to improve safety around school areas through several measures. In the next few months, we are trying to introduce roadside digital signs around schools to alert motorists if they are speeding or driving rashly. The screens will provide smart messages about road safety around schools,” said Al Banna.
Deema Hussain, safety manager at the TRA, said that apart from focusing on jaywalkers the campaign also focuses on drivers. “We have found out that many drivers still don’t know that not giving way for pedestrians is a traffic offence, with a fine of Dh500 and six black points. Many also don’t know cars shouldn’t be stopped on a pedestrian crossing. We are trying to raise awarenes regarding these issues.”
Dubai roads are still the safest in the Middle East and sixth safest in the world. The traffic fatality rate in Dubai is 3.4 per 100,000 population.
30 per cent rise in pedestrian deaths in 2016
49 pedestrian fatalities in 2016
33 pedestrian fatalities in 2015
198 people died on roads in Dubai in 2016
Not giving way to pedestrians: Dh500 fine and 6 black points
Stopping on pedestrian crossing: Dh500 fine
Parking on sidewalks: Dh200 fine and 3 black points
Jaywalking (crossing from undesignated places): Dh200 fine