School death is a reminder to drive cautiously
▶ The school run is a particularly hazardous time, when harried parents are up against the clock
The death of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare – particularly when the circumstances are senseless and easily preventable. Yet that is the horror facing the grief-stricken parents of Insiya Vasihi after the four-year-old girl was killed on Monday by a car reversing at speed in the grounds of Greenfield International School in Dubai. Insiya died at the scene while her mother, who was struck with her, is being treated in hospital for multiple fractures. The incident is compounded by the fact that the girl was within school grounds, where her parents undoubtedly thought she was safe from harm. Yet this is simply the latest fatality involving young children falling victim to bad driving and the second known incident in a month in which a tragedy of its kind has played out. Last month, school security guard Lil Bahador Pariyar was knocked to the ground and killed by a speeding car that mounted the kerb. In both cases, police have blamed drivers hitting the accelerator instead of the brake.
They are all the more shocking because they occurred either by the school gates or in school car parks. Schools are supposed to be institutions that protect children. These incidents require urgent action from teachers, parents and educational bodies to ensure stringent rules apply both within and outside school grounds, particularly for those dropping off or picking up children. Vigilance is needed from both drivers and school staff to ensure lives are not endangered.
The issue of road safety, however, goes beyond the purview of school management. In August, Abu Dhabi Police released a video warning drivers of the dangers of reversing without looking. It followed the death in Sharjah earlier this year of a 17-month-old, who was run over by a neighbour’s car, and an 18-monthold girl killed in Abu Dhabi in 2016 when her father ran over her.
Despite repeat calls for safer driving, a survey this week found one in five drivers in the UAE had been involved in a road accident in the past six months. This is a shocking number that the government is working to reduce by enforcing a number of road safety campaigns. Last month, for example, Abu Dhabi Police released a video showing a driver veering across several lanes of a road filled with moving traffic before smashing into a ditch. In that case, mobile phone use was to blame, but there are frequent examples of bad behaviour on the road, from failing to wear seatbelts, falling asleep at the wheel, failing to indicate and tailgating. There are currently 4.4 deaths on the road per 100,000 people in the UAE, but one death is one too many.
It is the responsibility of every driver to ensure all pedestrians, particularly children, are protected from hazards they do not understand. The school run is frequently carried out by harried parents navigating choked streets during rush hour and watching the clock. Taking 10 minutes extra to carry out a smooth and safe drop-off or pick-up could save lives. After all, no parent or driver should begrudge taking a few extra minutes to ensure a child gets to live.