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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Old heavy goods vehicles to be electronically monitored by Dubai authorities to cut chance of crashes

Devices installed to keep tabs on vehicles and drivers

Last year, 40 lorry crashes resulted in 49 deaths, compared to 29 fatalities caused by 25 accidents in 2015. Silvia Razgova / The National
Last year, 40 lorry crashes resulted in 49 deaths, compared to 29 fatalities caused by 25 accidents in 2015. Silvia Razgova / The National

Monitoring devices are being installed on articulated lorries that are more than 20 years old as part of efforts to cut the number of accidents they are involved in.

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has started linking the vehicles with monitoring centre to watch for faults and driving behaviour.

The move comes amid rising road accidents deaths involving heavy goods vehicles and concerns about their condition and the ability of the people driving them.

Last year, 40 lorry crashes resulted in 49 deaths, compared to 29 fatalities caused by 25 accidents in 2015.

More than 30,000 fines were issued to lorry drivers in Dubai in the first six months of this year for not abiding by road safety rules. So far this year, there have been 14 serious accidents and 15 deaths involving heavy goods vehicles on Dubai roads.

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"In the final quarter of this year, the RTA will compile information about faults of trucks and conduct of drivers to build a solid database that helps the assessment of vehicle and driver risks and enables taking appropriate actions against violators,” said Mattar Al Tayer, director general of the RTA.

"Trucks and trailers are being tested and licensed in five testing centres equipped to carry out the tests required on this type of vehicles."

As for drivers, RTA started with a training module for manoeuvres of trucks connected to trailers. All heavy truck drivers have been subjected to a medical screening system at the time of issuing or renewing their driver licences.

Earlier this year, seven people were killed and 35 others injured in a crash involving a bus and a lorry in Dubai. Police said at the time that the bus driver lost control after a tyre blow-out and he ended up colliding with a lorry on the opposite side of the road.

Police have visited rest stops as part of a campaign to make drivers and their companies aware of the risks of driving while fatigued and running worn-down tired.

Earlier this year, road safety experts said heavy vehicles that are more than 20 years old should be taken off the roads completely. The authorities did not comment at the time but the move would likely cost construction and haulage companies a significant amount of money.

“Many heavy goods vehicles are death traps,” Robert Hodges, the former chief operating officer of Emirates Driving Institute, said at the time.

“We seem to have hundreds, perhaps thousands of worn-out and potentially dangerous heavy-goods vehicles in daily use. These are too old, usually overloaded or incorrectly loaded.

“They are driven for months, even years with absolutely no servicing or maintenance except when there is a failure. They typically have several tyres with little or no tread and mixed tyre sizes.”