x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Speed cameras take motorists by surprise

New speed cameras on Sheikh Zayed Road do not use flash to take a picture, and the fines are adding up for motorists.

New speed radars on Sheikh Zayed Road.
New speed radars on Sheikh Zayed Road.

Imagine speeding along Sheikh Zayed Road and spying one of Dubai's new speed cameras. It is too late to slow down, but luck is with you. There is no flash, so the cameras must not have been switched on. Then imagine your surprise when an order to pay a Dh600 (US$163) fine arrives in the mail. That is the trick the new cameras have been playing for the past fortnight on motorists who do not heed the message to slow down: they do not need to flash to take your picture.

That is exactly what happened to James McDaniel, who was fined for breaking the 120 kph limit on the busy road. "I checked online and I had been caught at just before midnight. I called the traffic department and they said it was a new camera," said Mr McDaniel, 41, an electronics shop owner. "I remembered that I had not seen any flashing of speed cameras that night when other cars were going past so I thought they were all off. This means you never know when you are going to get caught now." The old grey cameras sent out a flash when a vehicle passed over the speed limit, giving away their positions to other drivers, especially at night. There are 30 of the new blue and grey radars on Sheikh Zayed Road, 22 on the Dubai-Al Ain Road, 17 on the Dubai-Hatta Road, 10 on Emirates Road, six on Al Khail Road and five on Business Bay Crossing. Lt Col Saif Muhair al Mazroui, the acting director of the Dubai Police traffic department, said: "The new radars are digital and work by laser technology. They are highly sensitive and precise, and do not flash normally. During night time, the radars will only flash if there is very poor visibility on the roads; if it was foggy, for example. "They are all fixed and have started operating. The old radars have been removed completely from Sheikh Zayed Road. The decision was made because the new radars are more efficient and are also more attractive." The old radars have been placed in outer roads of the city. "There are one or two left but they will all soon be moved to outer roads such as Al Ain Road," Lt Col al Mazroui said. Police say the radars, which will be controlled from a room in the traffic department, are the most accurate and sensitive devices ever installed on Dubai roads. They were developed to detect speeding vehicles from 100m away, a range that could be increased to 500m to help catch drivers who speed between radars. "We have installed a radar every 2km. The radars have been programmed to catch speeding vehicles from a distance of 100m, so that reckless drivers who previously thought they could avoid being fined by slowing when approaching the radar should realise they are now being caught from a distance," Lt Col al Mazroui said. "The radar is capable of taking very clear pictures in colour of the front and back of the vehicle. The quality of photos it takes is so high that the driver is clearly visible. rabubaker@thenational.ae