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New cameras to monitor traffic

11:47 - 2 октября 2002 года

Abu Dhabi has resorted to German technology to support its long-standing crackdown against speed and other traffic violations that claimed nearly 190 lives last year despite mushrooming road control systems and intensifying police patrols.

Three advanced German traffic cameras have been installed in concealed locations at key junctions in the capital on a trial basis, and more will be set up in the near future.

The cameras were installed by German engineers, who were in town this week to set up the system and explain their capabilities to police and Municipal officials.

"They are very sophisticated cameras as they can monitor speed and violations of traffic signals, especially jumping the red light," an Abu Dhabi Municipality source said. "The cameras have been set up on a trial basis and we may soon install more."

The cameras would then be linked to the main control network at the Traffic Police Department and the Municipality, to enable them to monitor roads in the city better.

Drivers welcomed the installation of the new cameras, but called on the authorities to publicise such systems to create more road awareness and deter reckless motorists.

"I think the public should know about such cameras so they will be more careful when driving ... of course the aim should be to minimise violations and accidents, not to increase revenue from traffic fines," said Imtiyaz Ahmed, a driver for a local company.

"It is welcome news," said Ayad Ahmed, a bank employee. "I hope more cameras will be installed to deter crazy drivers ... there are too many of them out there."

Abu Dhabi roads already have police cameras but they have failed to deter traffic violations, as the location of most of them is known to motorists and their capability is limited. Other cameras have been installed at traffic signals to deter jumping red lights.

But police say such cameras, along with intensified patrols and awareness campaigns, have failed to curb traffic violations, with more people falling victim to road accidents last year.

Police figures showed that 190 people were killed in traffic accidents last year, while 160 died in 2000. Violations of traffic rules, mainly speeding, was blamed for such accidents, along with a steady increase in the number of vehicles in the city.

"It is speed and speed and speed," Brigadier Hassan Ahmed Al Housani, Director of the Abu Dhabi Traffic and Licensing Department, told the Police magazine last month.

"There is an excessive violation of traffic rules...other reasons for the accidents are the sharp increase in the number of vehicles and the population, expansion in road networks and abuse of roads by motorists and pedestrians."

Another police officer agreed that lack of effective deterrence is giving rise to violations of traffic rules and leading to more casualties.

"The increase in the number of road casualties is a result of speeding, reckless driving, failure to fasten seat belts and jumping red lights," said Major Obaid Nakhira Al Dahiri, Director of Al Ain Traffic and Licensing Department.

In its latest report, the Abu Dhabi Municipality said it was carrying out major road projects in the capital with the aim of easing traffic pressure and minimising accidents.

They include the construction of nearly 15 underpasses and flyovers, more parks, and expansion of roads. But officials stressed such plans would not be effective in the absence of deterrent laws against road abusers and an intensified education campaign for road users.

Housani believes the UAE has made progress in its drive to curb accidents on the grounds that the ratio between the number of road accidents to each 10,000 vehicles is only eight, while it is much higher in other developing countries.

But he adds: "More work needs to be done because this ratio still does not match that in developed countries. We hope more progress will be made in the near future."

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