A move to lower the enforced speed on the Abu-Dhabi-Dubai motorway from 160 kph to 140 kph will have a "huge impact" on road safety, traffic experts have said.
"I completely support this decision," said Mustafa el Wazani, senior engineering inspector at the National Transport Authority. "I see drivers that reach ridiculous speeds on the motorway and put others in great danger. Speed is the cause for most accidents and this action will definitely have a huge impact."
The move to cut the speed above which motorists are penalised was made this week after local studies examined international standards and analysed the impact of speed, according to Brigadier Hussain al Harethi, head of the Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrols Directorate.
All speed cameras will be adjusted later this month according to the new buffer and those who go even one kilometre per hour above the enforced speed limit will be penalised, he said.
Yaser Hawas, director of the roadway, transportation and traffic safety research centre at UAE University, commended the decision.
"Lowering the [enforcement] speed will definitely reduce the number of fatalities and injuries related to traffic accidents," he said. "It goes without saying."
While experts were optimistic about the impact the change would have on road users, some said it may catch drivers by surprise.
"While this will reduce the number of accidents, it will increase the number of [speeding] fines," Mr el Wazani said. "Many road users are used to driving at speeds of 160 on this motorway. It will take time for them to get used to the idea that the speed has been reduced."
A full media campaign will alert drivers before it is fully enforced later this month, Brig al Harethi said.
"We will release a series of messages in the media, as well as newspaper announcements to alert the community," he said.
The official speed limit for the majority of the Abu Dhabi-Dubai road is 120 kph.
However, the current buffer on most of the Abu Dhabi portion of the motorway allows drivers to reach a speed of 160 kph. The decision to reduce the enforcement speed reflects a series of efforts by the Abu Dhabi traffic police to promote road safety.
Last month, officials said new signs will be erected on all external roads, clearly identifying and alerting drivers to changes in the radar enforcement limit - 140 kph in some areas and 160 kph in others.
However, the new move to reduce the enforcement limit to 140 kph along the E11 motorway means that the buffer will be consistent along all parts of the motorway.
Figures shared by the Department of Transport (DoT) in January showed that reducing the enforcement speed from 160 kph to 140kph on motorways could reduce the crash risk by as much as 90 to 95 per cent.
The speed buffer reduction was a quick-fix recommendation made by the DoT during the conference as part of the department's Speed Management Action Plan, which aims to reduce the percentage of drivers who speed to 20 per cent, from as high as 80 per cent, in the next three years.
Meanwhile, Dubai recorded a 25.6 per cent drop in traffic accidents last year compared with 2009, which officials attributed to more rigorous enforcement of speed limits.
The emirate has introduced 32 fixed radar units and 39 mobile radar units since 2008. Dubai enforces a maximum enforced speed limit of 140 kph on its section of the E11 motorway.