x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Cautious drivers obey new limit on Abu Dhabi-Dubai road

Drivers are being more cautious after speed limits were reduced on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway.

Drivers are being more cautious after speed limits were reduced on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway.
Drivers are being more cautious after speed limits were reduced on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway.

ABU DHABI // Drivers were visibly more cautious on the first day of the speed limit reduction on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai motorway yesterday.

Abdullah Mohammed, a Dubai resident from Palestine, said he had noticed a change in drivers' habits since the announcement was made last week that the enforced speed limit would drop to 140 kph.

"You find fewer drivers on the left lane, and most drivers are going at speeds of about 140 kph," he said. "The new rules have definitely made a difference, [although] you still do come across the erratic driver who tailgates you and refuses to move," he said.

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Mr Mohammed also said he noticed more police cars patrolling the roads.

Last week, the Abu Dhabi traffic police announced the new enforcement speed on the E-11 motorway linking the two emirates would be reduced from 160 kph to 140 kph.

Green signs informing drivers of the new enforced speed limits were also unveiled and speed cameras have been updated and reprogrammed accordingly.

A few temporary message signs, informing drivers of weather conditions or requesting they drive slowly, have also been placed on the sides of the motorway.

"New cameras are updated through a central system. We just make the change on our system and all cameras are updated automatically," said Brig Hussein al Harethi, head of the Abu Dhabi traffic and patrols directorate.

"However, old cameras are updated manually and one by one, through a dial."

Brig al Harethi said the speed cameras go through a stringent process of calibration and testing by traffic police and the manufacturer to ensure they are accurate and effective.

Calibration, Brig al Harethi said, ensures that the speed recorded on the cameras accurately matches the speed of the vehicles on the road.

If all is clear, the manufacturer then issues a certificate to say that it is OK to proceed with the implementation of the road's new speed limit.

"At that point we start our campaigns informing drivers of the change," Brig al Harethi said.

The amount of time this takes depends on the number of cameras and the size of the road. Each speed camera has a number and is continuously monitored by the police, Brig al Harethi said.

Meanwhile, taxis will still be required to drive at a maximum speed of 120 kph on all motorways and will continue to be monitored by TransAd through GPRS.

Kailash Tiwari, a road safety expert based in Abu Dhabi, welcomed the decision to lower the speed limit.

"Better late than never," he said. "I had been strongly advocating that the enforced speed limits are to be equal or less than 140 kph on all of the expressways in the UAE. These roads are designed in such a way that cannot accommodate higher speeds."

However, Mr Tiwari said that while reducing the speed limit was a significant improvement, members of the community must work together.

He suggested the establishment of a road safety council or committee that would comprise board members from all the major stakeholders, including the Ministry of Interior, the Abu Dhabi traffic police, the Department of Transport and even the Ministry of Education.

"These representatives should be capable of making and implementing decisions with regard to road safety," he said.

In addition, black points must be issued at an earlier stage. "At the moment, offenders do not receive black points unless they exceed the speed limit by 50 kph," he said. "That means that if someone is driving on a road where the speed limit is 120, black points aren't issued until a driver reaches a speed of 170 kph. This is too late."

The enforced speed restrictions on roads leading from Al Mafraq bridge to Saih Shoeib and from Al Mafraq bridge to Sas al Nakhal have also been reduced to 140 kph.

mismail@thenational.ae