x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Police shrug over radar-locating GPS

'We put up big red signs to warn that cameras are in use'

ABU DHABI // Police say no decision has been made about the legality of new global positioning system (GPS) devices loaded with the location of radar cameras, but they are not concerned that speeding drivers may use them to evade detection. Maps on the new Garmin Nuvi 710 device alert drivers to the locations of radar speed cameras in the capital.

However, Col Hamad al Shamisi, the chief of Abu Dhabi traffic police, says he is not worried. "Everyone has already memorised the position of the speed cameras," Col Shamisi said. "In fact, we ourselves put up big red signs to warn motorists that cameras are in use." Lt Col Khamis al Mahoodi, deputy director of the traffic police, added: "The speed cameras are placed in a conspicuous manner so that drivers see them and slow down. They are not there to catch people speeding, although they often do."

There is some debate on GPS blogs and websites about whether mapping systems loaded with the positions of cameras are legal or not. Robert Brady of PocketGPSWorld.com, a GPS news, reviews and forums website, confirmed that the latest models were programmed with speed camera locations, but questioned the legality of their use in the UAE. According to Col Shamisi, their use may not necessarily be illegal.

"No decision was ever made as to whether the maps indicating the position of speed cameras should be banned or not," he said. "As things stand at the moment, I cannot say they are illegal or legal. It was never discussed." The National took a radar gun out to test whether drivers knew where the speed traps were located. The trial was held on Khaleej al Arabi Street heading out of Abu Dhabi towards the airport, where there are a number of speed cameras, and along Corniche Road and in the downtown area of the capital.

On Corniche Road, where the speed limit is 60kph, the radar gun clocked some drivers travelling at more than 110kph. However, motorists slowed to between 60kph and 80kph when they approached a speed camera, even before it was visible. Several drivers set off the camera, which took a photograph on average every 10 seconds, indicating that not everybody had memorised camera locations. Along Khaleej al Arabi towards the airport, drivers were braking before they reached the speed cameras, but accelerating to speeds as high as 180kph after passing them.