Traffic Awareness Campaign Launched
Shadiah Abdullah, Arab News

SHARJAH, 21 June 2007 — Jebel Ali police launched the second phase of a road safety campaign for travelers who use their vehicles to travel to their homelands. Most of the travelers are low-income Arab families who leave the UAE and drive through Saudi Arabia to get to their homelands. Some of them get involved in fatal accidents because they do not follow traffic rules. Many of these accidents occur due to overloaded vehicles.

Lt. Col. Abdullah Khadim Surour at the Jebel Ali Police Station, warned motorists who overload their vehicles that they will be fined, adding that the police will also be on the lookout for worn tires and those who use them will also be fined.

The campaign, that included safety advice, free tire checkups and gifts to children, aims at cutting down the number of accidents resulting from such mistakes. It will go on for the next three months.

Surour said the police this year had done a lot of preparation in regards to the campaign. “We have two phases: First, we checked the tires of the traveler’s vehicle. We did this by going to different locations like embassies, Road Traffic Authority (RTA), petrol pumps and police stations. We especially focused on the Saudi Consulate as most of the travelers were processing their paperwork there. The next phase was at a meeting point in an Emirate petrol station on Sheikh Zayed Road where most of the vehicles come to fuel up before they start their long trips,” he said.

Surour said they educate the drivers on common traffic violations that are committed and asked them to avoid such violations for their own safety. “We also provide them with booklets that have all the emergency numbers, first-aid tips, motels, maps of the roads and advice on what do in case of emergencies. We hope that through such techniques the number of accidents would go down,” he said.

According to him, the most common accidents that occur during long trips are those that result from overturning because of overloaded vehicles, fatigue-related accidents, cars burning because of overheating and accidents related to weather changes in the desert. He advised travelers to get enough sleep as fatigue can cause lapses in attention.

“Don’t travel for more than eight to 10 hours in any one day, or at times when you would normally be sleeping. Take regular breaks, at least every two hours,” he said. Surour urged drivers to watch for road debris such as tire treads, garbage, lumber, gravel, tree limbs, and mufflers and exhaust parts.

Travelers should be extra cautious around large trucks, he said, as they have large “blind spots” and much longer stopping distances than passenger cars. “Speeding should be avoided as studies show that higher travel speeds are responsible for a significant increase in highway traffic deaths. Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to steer safely around curves or objects in the roadway. It extends the distance required to stop a vehicle and increases the distance a vehicle travels while the driver reacts to a dangerous situation,” he said.