Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Poor driving to hit offenders' wallets

Poor driving to hit offenders' wallets
By Rayeesa Absal, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS

Abu Dhabi: Causing minor accidents is soon to become a costly affair, with the authorities introducing a new charge of Dh 500 by the end of this year, Gulf News has learnt.

The charge will be levied on errant motorists who cause small accidents, a senior police official said. However, drivers will not have to pay any other fees to insurance companies.

The money will go to Saaed, a private company which has been outsourced by the Abu Dhabi Police to handle minor accidents. Saaed has already been handling small traffic accidents occurring outside the city since September 15.

Speaking to Gulf News about the introduction of the charge, Major Hussain Ahmad Al Harthi, Director of the Traffic Engineering and Road Safety department at the Traffic and Patrolling Directorate of the police, said: "The charges are being introduced in a bid to curb accidents and improve the emergency services offered by the police". The emirate alone witnesses a massive 95,000 minor accidents annually, as per official statistics.

"If the emergency services and patrols are free from the headache of attending to the large number of petty accidents then they can focus better on bigger accidents and other areas that require their attention such as crimes", Al Harthi, who is also Chairman of Saaed, said.

Police announced in a statement on Monday that from October 12 those causing minor accidents in Al Ain and the outskirts of Abu Dhabi city will be charged Dh500 for using the services of Saaed.

"Motorists will not pay any additional fees to insurance companies or other charges", read the statement.

"Within the city, we plan to introduce the charge by the end of this year."

Keeping up

According to Al Harthi, the decision comes as a forerunner to combat the potential issues the city may face due to fast-paced developments, increasing population and ballooning traffic on the roads.

The move comes in line with a decision by Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior, to improve police services.

"We noticed that the time for the police to reach the accident spots has been increasing. If it takes around 20 to 30 minutes now to reach a spot after braving congestion and roadblocks, then what will be the situation few years later?"

"With the current rate of development, if no improvements are made to the existing system, it might take officers 2 hours (to reach the scene). So these new measures are for the better in the long run", Al Harthi explained.

"It is in the best interest of the people as congestion is impeding the movement of ambulances and emergency mechanisms.

"Saaed now reaches the spot within an average of 11 minutes and completes their work in another 11 minutes approximately.

"They work in close coordination with the police and will be monitored for their performance," he said.

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