ABU DHABI // Traffic was generally smooth on Sunday morning despite hundreds of thousands of pupils returning to school after the summer holidays.
Abu Dhabi Police stepped up patrols on roads, around schools and at intersections to reduce congestion and its operations room did not receive reports of any major accidents.
Col Jamal Al Ameri, head of public relations at the Traffic and Patrols Department, said: “Traffic is well under control and we don’t have any problems. We are urging parents to keep a safe distance between vehicles and ensure they do not block school entrances and crosswalks when dropping off their children.
“And it’s very important for parents to adhere to traffic rules. Children under the age of 10 should sit in the back seat.”
Even when traffic is generally smooth, there are always places where hold-ups inevitably occur, as motorists travelling on Sheikh Zayed Road on Sunday morning will know.
There was congestion on both sides of Dubai’s main thoroughfare, with slow-moving traffic from Wafi Mall up to The Dubai Mall interchange, towards Abu Dhabi.
Traffic also moved slowly from Mall of the Emirates up to The Dubai Mall interchange in the direction of Sharjah.
Motorists also complained of delays at Business Bay around Emaar Square.
A minor accident was reported on the Dubai-Al Ain Road after Academic City exit towards Dubai, while another was reported on Al Khail Road, near Dubai Mall, which caused some tailbacks.
In the capital, parents were largely pleased with how the morning rush hour turned out. Rashid Al Muhairi, 44, who dropped off his son Khalifa, 10, at Al Nahda National School for Boys, off Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Street in Abu Dhabi at 7am, said the back-to-school traffic was much better than last year.
“I think the police are doing a great job,” he said. “We got here in five minutes. I saw traffic patrols at many intersections to ensure safety and smooth flow of traffic.”
Mustafa Al Rumaithi, 47, set out on the school run earlier than normal from the family’s home in Al Shamkha, on the outskirts of the capital.
He first took his 15-year-old daughter to Al Nahda School for Girls in Mushrif and then proceeded to the Al Nahda boy’s campus to drop off his sons, aged 7, 11 and 12.
“We had to leave at 6am so we won’t be caught in a traffic jam,” he said. “Traffic was heavy but moved smoothly and easily.”
Parents should be good role models for their children when it comes to safe conduct around schools, said Thomas Edelmann, founder of Road Safety UAE.
“This starts with proper time management, observing the speed limit, ensuring children are buckled up and parking safely around schools,” he said. “Parents should ensure [their children] cross only at designated crosswalks.”
At one school in the capital on Sunday, pupils were seen crossing the road from undesignated points on roads filled with haphazardly parked vehicles.
Phil Clarke, principal road safety consultant at the UAE’s Transport Research Laboratory, said: “What parents don’t seem to understand is that their irresponsible actions endanger their own children, as well as other people.”
Some countries, including the UK, have introduced School Keep Clear (SKC) zones, where cars are banned from even stopping to drop off or pick up children, he said.
“But the effectiveness of these depends upon the attitude of those drivers taking the children to and from school and, more importantly, the level of enforcement,” said Mr Clarke. “Therefore any increased activity by the police in the vicinity of schools at the drop off and pick up times, even without any SKCs, has to be a good thing.”
A traffic awareness campaign, Together to keep our children safe, was recently launched by Abu Dhabi Police to ensure the safety of children at the start of the new school term and to reduce traffic congestion and prevent accidents.
* Additional reporting by Naser Al Remeithi
Source: uae news