Al Ain: Traffic Police have stepped up measures against motorists who ignore the rights of pedestrians at the city’s zebra crossings.

Intensified police inspections in downtown pedestrian areas are taking motorists by surprise when police officials suddenly appear from the side and wave them to a stop. “Driving licence and registration please,” says the officer, telling the drivers that they have just violated the pedestrians’ right.

Pedestrians have the priority at designated places where motorists must stop by law and let them cross. The UAE traffic laws stipulate a fine of Dh500 and six black points for violators. “The fines and black points serve as a stern reminder as well as a punishment,” said an official of the Traffic and Licensing Section of Al Ain Police Department.

“We are regularly organising traffic safety weeks to educate them,” he said, adding that the police are always vigilant and take action against those involved in violation of traffic rules and regulation.

Julian Joseph, a Filipina, said she had seen dozens of drivers getting fines near City Plaza in Al Kuwaitat. Two policemen were issuing tickets to drivers found violating pedestrians’ rights at a nearby zebra crossing. “Nobody was being spared…I really appreciate traffic police for such a campaign for pedestrians’ safety,” she said.

She said the message is loud and clear, “please don’t put lives of people at risk,” she said. Many drivers do not bother to stop for pedestrians. “For them zebra crossings either do not exist or carry any meaning.” This has resulted in accidents in the past in which pedestrians and cyclists have lost their lives, said Joseph.

The plight of pedestrians, said Mubarak Ali, an Al Ain resident, increases in summer when they brave the sizzling heat by standing under the direct sunlight and wait for an opportunity to cross the road. “It’s a cruel and inhuman attitude,” he said, adding that a change in drivers’ mentality is vital.

The attitude of pedestrian also came under attack from motorists who blamed their carelessness as the main cause of the increasing number of street accidents. “Why don’t a majority of them use designated pedestrian crossings instead of putting their lives in danger by taking short cuts,” said Ahmad Ali, a driver.

A lot of careless pedestrians cross the streets from non-designated areas and the drivers cannot see them, he added. “I would request traffic police to take tough measures against jaywalkers,” he said.

They city has high vehicular traffic and increasing pedestrian movement on many roads. Al Ain Municipality had announced in July last year the building of a pedestrian bridge near one of the city’s busiest interchanges. The area has high traffic as some 56,300 vehicles use the road every day. This number is expected to rise to 80,000 by the year 2020.

Almost a year has gone by and no development has taken place at the proposed site. According to the municipality, the bridge will be some 36 metres long, two and a half metres wide and six metres high over Khalid Bin Sultan Road.