BY MATOVU A. TWAHA
FOLLOWING a spate of accidents that have claimed over a dozen lives last week in the Emirate of Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) together with Dubai Police have stepped up their measures to counter the accidents by impounding the errant vehicles as well as holding awareness drives.
Over last week, the RTA held a workshop on "Driving Speed Management" aiming at curbing recurrent driving speed risks. Within the same week, Dubai Traffic Police were continuing their campaign against trucks and minibuses that are found to be in unfitting condition taking keen interest on the condition of tyres. Over 100 trucks so far have been impounded in one month.
The Traffic Police have extended the campaign to the companies that own minibuses and trucks inviting them to a round table to seek solutions for the "alarming accidents".
"Two accidents involving minibuses in less than a week show that some drivers do not care about the lives of their passengers and there is lack of supervision by companies owning or renting minibuses," the Director of Dubai Police's Traffic Department, Engineer Brigadier Mohammed Saif Al Zafein showed concern.
Both accidents in question took place last week [and both] involving minibuses claiming seven lives. The earlier one in which five people died occurred at the tail end of Al Garhoud bridge when the driver lost control, while the second saw two killed in similar circumstances on Emirates Road.
In the RTA workshop that was held at their main building near Dubai Airport, a number of papers were presented by experts in the field of road safety discussing speed management on roads, the best global practices and experiments in the same field, and the optimum means of ensuring safety of road users.
The workshop was opened by the Manager of Traffic Safety at RTA Traffic and Roads Agency, Khalfan Al Barwani. In attendance there were more than 100 professionals from the RTA, General Department of Traffic at Dubai Police, the Ministry of Interior, the Australian Road Researches Board (ARRB) among others stakeholders.
"The purpose of holding such a workshop is to identify the global practices in selecting the design speed, road speed limits, and enforcement measures. This underscores RTA efforts to enhance road safety levels, and upgrade the awareness level of motorists and road users; a matter which will ultimately result in reduced number of accidents and related injuries," said Khalfan Al Barwani.
He added that the workshop focused on addressing risks of excessive speed; which has become a key factor of fatal accidents, as it accounts for 80 per cent of total fatal accidents reported. From a total number of accidents made last year 2007, some 165 of them were attributed to excessive speed.
Khalfan said that the workshop concluded with coming up with a strategy having more than one elements that will be undertaken by the RTA. One of the elements is to impact the attitude of road users through promoting traffic awareness, enhancing monitoring and law enforcement, and developing driver licensing systems by making a separation between training and licensing entities.
"The second element is to improve safety standards applicable to roads infrastructure and transit system. The third one is to improve safety standards in transport modes by upgrading vehicle licensing and carrying out periodical inspections. The fourth element is improving environment-related safety standards through keeping in place suitable lighting, and rainwater drainage systems," he said.
Early last month, The Gulf Today reported that motorists "have urged the authorities to keep holding awareness training to truck drivers whom they have said are 'running amok' on the roads."
The paper quoted one Hatim Kato saying; "Daily I keep witnessing crazy driving especially when they're joining roads and the way they dash across lanes; they hardly mind about other road users."
He said that it is better to organise periodical awareness courses for them, "at least once in every three months for prevention is better than the accidents that take precious lives."
Source: Gulf Today