Abu Dhabi, UAE: Traffic was smooth in the capital on Sunday as hundreds of thousands of pupils returned to school after the three-week holiday.
Abu Dhabi Police monitored the roads around schools in the morning and afternoon to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion.
There were no reports of major accidents.
“Traffic was manageable and everything was under control,” Col Jamal Al Ameri, head of the public relations at Abu Dhabi Police’s traffic and patrols directorate. “Today, we are lucky that traffic was relatively smooth on the first day of school.”
He reminded parents not to park carelessly near school gates, especially in designated drop-off and pick-up points for school buses.
“They should set out on the school run earlier than than normal to avoid traffic jams in roads around schools,” Col Al Ameri said.
“When they are on the road in a school zone, they should stick to their lane, keep a safe distance between their cars and the vehicle in front, and avoid swerving. When they reach the school, they should drop off their children in a safe area and be mindful of pedestrians on the crosswalk.”
School bus drivers must adhere to traffic laws, speed limits and maintain a safe distance to keep children safe when they are on and around the bus, said Col Al Ameri.
“The main concern we face with school bus drivers is that they fail to keep a safe distance between the bus and a vehicle in front, which often results in an accident.”
Last September, 47 people, many of them children, were injured when two school buses and a public bus collided near Mussaffah bridge in the early morning rush hour. The crash was caused by driver inattention, speeding, and the two vehicles driving too close to each other, police said.
Latif Abubaker, 40, who drives a bus for Al Nahda National School for Girls, said traffic was heavy in Mushrif early on Sunday morning.
“Police were present to make sure the roads were safe and traffic was running smoothly this morning,” he said. “I’m carrying 24 children so I should drive safely and follow all the rules.”
He hoped parents who drop off and pick up their children to and from school would be more considerate.
“They must avoid blocking traffic near the school entrance and exit points,” Mr Abubaker said.
In Dubai, the Patrol and Traffic Department said internal roads were congested from Sharjah to Dubai in the morning rush while traffic was moving normally elsewhere, although some delays were reported on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road towards Dubai.
To prevent traffic jams during pick-up and drop-off times, schools should consider staggered start and finish times for classes said Michael Dreznes, executive vice-president of the International Road Federation.
“This would eliminate some of the traffic at a particular time when people are dropping off and picking up their children,” he said. “For families with several children, this could cause some difficulties, but it may be a good solution for the majority of students.”
Another option is to encourage ride sharing among parents, Mr Dreznes said.
At some stage during the winter months, motorists are likely to face bad weather conditions, particularly fog, during the school run difficult. Rather than braving the roads, Col Al Ameri suggested delaying the trip to school until the weather improves.
“Parents who drop off their children to school in the morning should consider postponing their trip by 30 minutes to one hour until the fog clears. Although we did not experience dense fog this morning, they should keep in mind our safety message in the future.”
© The NationalJan 2017
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