The campaign is part of an eight-event ‘Road Peace’ safety initiative launched by the International Association for Human Values (IAHV), a UN registered charity, in conjunction with Dubai Police, the Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Municipality, the organizers of the Dubai Shopping Festival and corporate sponsors.
Rally ace Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who is chairman of the UAE Automobile and Touring Club, is also supporting the programme.
Brigadier Essa Aman Obaid, Deputy Director of Traffic, Dubai Police, said motorists who hold their mobile to their ear while driving will be reprimanded by the police and stronger measures were being considered.
Engineer Maitha Mohammed Bin Adai, CEO, Traffic & Roads Agency, Roads & Transport Authority, said road safety was everyone’s responsibility. “The classical view of road safety is the three E’s, which stand for Engineering, making the roads, Education on the rules of the road, and Enforcement of those rules. However it also requires a fourth E, for Effort. In order to reduce the number of accidents we need help and commitment from every sector of society, from schools, the media, from clubs and associations and NGOs like the IAHV, to constantly drive home the message that driving dangerously is not only illegal but also anti-social,” Adai said.
She said that over the past two years the number of cars on Dubai’s roads had increased by over 200,000. “Dubai is a worldwide success story and more and more people want to come and live here. We are constantly planning, building and widening Dubai’s roads. However as the city expands people also need to learn to drive with more self-discipline, cooperation and respect for their fellow motorists,” engineer Adai added.
Per capita statistics reveal the UAE has among the highest number of road fatalities in the world and is increasing year by year. In 2004 the average number of road fatalities was 17 per month. Last year it reached 20 per month. In the first four months of this year it had increased to an average of 26 per month.
Hamdan Al Shaer, Director for Environment, Dubai Municipality said that steps are being taken to ensure safety in all areas of life such as construction sites, workplaces, roads, homes, schools and every possible industry sector or discipline.
Dr Prabhakar Rao, Chief Operating Officer of IAHV-Middle East, said anecdotal evidence indicated a high percentage of accidents were caused by drivers talking on their mobiles rather than concentrating on driving.
“Enabling effective and efficient communication between people is at the heart of what we do” said Sudhir Nair, Senior Marketing Manager, Nokia Middle and Near East. “Nokia offers a broad range of devices to allow handsfree communication, using Bluetooth wireless technology or wired connections. Thanks to this technology, we are able to make our phone calls without the use of our hands; there’s no longer a need to place yourself and others in danger by continuing to use your hands with a phone. At Nokia we clearly recognize the value of this initiative in the region, and we look forward to helping by offering our strengths – connecting and communicating – to contribute in raising the awareness on the importance of safe and responsible driving.”
Dr Rao explained that for the next week 100 specially trained IAHV volunteers would be dispensing leaflets to the general public at shopping malls, filling stations and Centrepoint shops at Mall of the Emirates and on Trade Centre Road, inspiring people to avoid using mobiles while talking and in case of emergencies exploring the benefits of Bluetooth hands free equipment. The exercise will be repeated in the autumn.
As part of it Road Peace campaign the IAHV is also running an on-going programme of ‘Stress Busting’ training workshops for heavy road users such as truck, taxi and school bus drivers. These workshops are being done in association with its sister organization, The Art of Living Foundation. Over 600 people have attended the course so far and this will have grown to over 6000 by the time of the campaign’s finale in December. This community event will be an official part of the Dubai Shopping Festival and will feature a ‘Human Chain’ at Zabeel Park. About 16,000 people are expected to attend and there will be attempts to break three Guinness World Records.
Monday, June 5- 2006 @ 16:30 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.