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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Remote devices are fitted to 5,000 ageing heavy vehicles to cut deaths

Move follows calls from road safety experts to look closely at old lorries - or take them off the roads entirely

Road safety campaigners and police have expressed alarm at the condition of some vehicles on the roads, and the number of fatal accidents involving lorries. Courtesy: Umm Al Quwain Police
Road safety campaigners and police have expressed alarm at the condition of some vehicles on the roads, and the number of fatal accidents involving lorries. Courtesy: Umm Al Quwain Police

Five thousand lorries and other heavy goods vehicles have been fitted with remote trackers to allow the authorities to monitor their condition and how they are being driven.

Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said the devices can detect faults and if they are driven and loaded improperly.

If the driver of a tagged vehicle drove it at excessive speed, suddenly braked, swerved from lane to lane frequently or was driven for a dangerously long time in one journey, the authority's monitoring centre would be alerted.

"Accordingly, it will improve the road safety and save lives & properties," said Mohammed Nabhan, director of monitoring and enforcement at the RTA's Licensing Agency.

"It will also reduce negative effects of these vehicles, and disseminate the culture of road safety among operators and drivers.

“The initial phase of installation of these devices targets trucks that have been in service for 20 years or more. The second phase, which will be kicked off in August this year, will target trucks in service for 15 years or more.

"The third phase, planned for August 2019, will target trucks that have been in service for 10 years or less."

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Law needed to ensure lorry drivers are not 'dangerously overworked'

Authorities plan electronic tagging of old heavy goods vehicles

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As The National reported last year, some road safety experts called for vehicles that are two decades old to be taken off the roads entirely.

“Many heavy goods vehicles are death traps,” said Robert Hodges, a road safety specialist and former head of the Emirates Driving Institute, Dubai's largest driving school, 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."

About 13,000 of the more than 22,000 heavy vehicles checked by the authority in the first half of 2016 year failed to pass inspection.

And in November, an event organised by RoadSafetyUAE, Dubai Police and German lorry company Man heard that some drivers overwork themselves, or are overworked by their employers, to the point they cannot drive safely. But the authorities are yet to introduce a maximum number of hours that a driver can be on the road.

In the first 10 months of 2017, 12 people died and 82 were injured in 62 accidents involving heavy vehicles, while in 2016, 36 people died and 187 were injured in 99 lorry crashes.