x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Police turn attention to biker safety

They will start confiscating motorcycles from dangerous riders, as the powerful machines become more popular with young men.

Traffic police say they will ensure that motorcycles are not sold to people who are under 18 or do not have licences.
Traffic police say they will ensure that motorcycles are not sold to people who are under 18 or do not have licences.

ABU DHABI // Police say they will start confiscating the motorcycles of dangerous riders as the powerful machines become more popular with young men. They will also inspect motorcycle shops to ensure they are not selling the bikes to people under 18 or who do not have valid licences, a senior traffic police officer said. A media campaign will also be launched to draw attention to the potential dangers of motorcycle riding and ways of riding the machines safely.

The moves come despite recent figures showing the number of motorbike accidents and associated injuries on the capital's roads dropped by about half last year, to 42 in 2008 from 83 in 2007. However, Major Ahmed al Niyadi, the head of media at the traffic department, said police were becoming more vigilant because more and more young men were swapping four wheels for two. He said: "Instead of racing with their cars they adopted a new hobby and shifted to motorbikes.

"The youth here were obsessed with adding boosters to their engines, but now they switched that obsession with motorbikes, which some consider as a sport. "During this season the weather is nice and there is a cool breeze as opposed to the summer heat, so more people want to take their motorbikes out on the roads and the desert." Nevertheless, he said most motorcycle riders were now more responsible on the road, which he said contributed to the decline in accidents. "The youth are now more aware of traffic safety."

Last year, three people died and 62 were injured in 42 motorbike accidents in the emirate, compared to two dead and 129 injured in 83 accidents in 2007. He said motorbike riders would be closely monitored and those committing traffic offences would be fined to protect the lives of other people on the roads. "Traffic police will patrol the roads day and night looking for careless drivers and traffic violators."

Riders who are caught violating the rules will have their vehicles confiscated. The new black points system that was introduced last March has been an important factor in reducing motoring violations, Major al Niyadi added. "Motorists and bikers are now facing much higher fines based on the speed in kilometres an hour, and not only that but people want to avoid the hassle a violation brings, which could include vehicle and licence confiscation."

There would be a widespread inspection campaign of motorbike shops to ensure they only sold or rented motorbikes with a helmet. "Currently, not all the shops commit to this rule," he said. Police would also verify that customers not be allowed to rent or buy a motorbike unless they are above 18 and present a valid driving licence. The traffic department further aims to reduce the number of accidents involving motorbikes by increasing awareness of the issue among the public.

For example, the department will participate in the motorbike competitions that will be held in mid-January on the Tal Mureb sand dune in Liwa, and the competitions on the Tal Sad sand dune in Al Ain. Major al Niyadi also said police would prepare statistics on the number of shops that rent and sell motorcycles and ones that manufacture motorbike trailers to make sure they adhered to the department's terms and conditions.

He added that more young people were renting four-wheel buggies and driving them in sandy areas. But he said trailers carried behind buggies could be especially dangerous if not professionally built and maintained. Police will be inspecting the trailers' length and width, validity of tyres, lights, number plate and make sure they are equipped with alert signs. "Trailers are extremely dangerous, if a trailer does not fit the required conditions it could either go off track or the motorbike dragging it could get dismantled from the trailer."

He said both situations were extremely dangerous because such trailers were normally carrying petrol for other vehicles. "If a collision occurs the oil could spill over the iron and it will be a disaster," he said. hdajani@thenational.ae