x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Police raise stakes in fight against drag racers

Traffic departments across the country are increasing their efforts to have souped-up vehicles removed from public motorways.

A modified vehicle bursts into flames at the Awafi UAE Sand Drag Champions races in Ras al Khaimah, a legal venue for drag racing, bout 18 months ago. The fire reportedly started when an electrical short ignited the fuel.
A modified vehicle bursts into flames at the Awafi UAE Sand Drag Champions races in Ras al Khaimah, a legal venue for drag racing, bout 18 months ago. The fire reportedly started when an electrical short ignited the fuel.

Traffic police across the country are increasing their campaigns against drivers who modify their cars to boost speed and noise.

Sharjah Police has confiscated more than 100 cars, following an order last month from Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, the emirate's Ruler.

On Thursday, Ajman Police said all cars fitted with noise or speed-boosting equipment would be impounded for three months and their owners issued with fines, the amount of which has yet to be decided.

Police in Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah say they are also clamping down. Fines in Dubai can be as high as Dh2,000.

Abu Dhabi Police has launched an awareness campaign to explain to motorists what modifications are allowed and where "souped up" cars and motorcycles can be legally driven.

The campaign warns young drivers of the high risks involved in modifying cars and informs them that tough rules and fines are to be introduced from June 10.

"We are targeting a very specific group that goes to extremes in their car and motorcycle modifications, causing lots of noise and danger on the roads," said Lt Col Jamal Al Ameri, the head of public relations at the Abu Dhabi Police traffic department.

"They know who they are. We want them off the main public roads. They can't drive and intimidate other drivers. There are now many designated places where someone can go and race their cars."

Illegally modified cars are prone to fire, say police, and crashes often lead to explosions.

Racing tracks on Yas Island and Dubai Autodrome are open to the public on certain days.

Owners of modified cars will need permits from Abu Dhabi Police for their vehicles, but will still not be allowed to drive them on public roads.

Police stressed that any modified car "should be transported" to race tracks and not driven there.

Lt Col Al Ameri said the rules would be applied to everyone.

"The law doesn't differentiate between Emiratis or expat," he said. "If you are driving on a public road with a modified car, you will be caught."

Penalties include confiscation of the car for one month and a fine of up to Dh900 (Dh500 for cars making excessive noise, Dh400 for cars with modified engines, or Dh900 for both).

In Dubai, the penalties can be harsher.

"There aren't that many cases in Dubai of heavily modified cars on the main roads, but if we see any such car and especially one driving recklessly, we will stop it, hold the car from one to three months and fine the owner over Dh2,000," said Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zaffin, the head of the emirate's traffic department.

rghazal@thenational.ae

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