x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Speed cameras to alert passing police soon

Speed cameras in Abu Dhabi will be able to alert nearby police cars so they can immediately track down offending motorists.

Speed cameras in Abu Dhabi will be able to alert nearby police cars so they can immediately track down offending motorists.
Speed cameras in Abu Dhabi will be able to alert nearby police cars so they can immediately track down offending motorists.

 

A flashing camera and a fine will no longer be the end of the matter for drivers who exceed the speed limit.

Within minutes of being flashed they can expect to be pulled over by a patrol car alerted by Abu Dhabi traffic police’s new central control system.

The system links fixed and portable speed cameras, radar guns and traffic-light cameras with roaming police vehicles, allowing officers to track down offenders immediately.

“It has been proven that face-to-face interaction between police and offenders helps to reduce the number of traffic fatalities,” Brig Gen Hussain al Harethi, the head of the Abu Dhabi traffic police, said.

Sophisticated new cameras will also record average speed between two fixed points, unlike existing cameras that calculate speed at a single point. The new machines will catch speeding drivers who slow down as they approach a camera and then accelerate away.

Roll-out of the new system begins in two months and it is expected to be fully operational in 18 months.

The number of speeding offences in Abu Dhabi increased from 1.6 million in 2009 to 1.8 million last year.

Most offenders exceeded the speed limit by 20kph to 30kph. The increase has prompted police to introduce the new measures.

Abu Dhabi traffic police say 71 per cent of driving offences last year were speeding. Sudden movement, such as when a driver abruptly switches lanes, and tailgating are the top causes of death on the roads.

Statistics from the Department of Transport (DoT) presented at the Road Safety Middle East conference also showed that up to 80 per cent of drivers do not comply with speed limits. Experts at the conference said driving culture was the “heart of the problem”.

“One of the main concerns is that speeding seems to have a strong cultural aspect,” John Lee, from the DoT, said. “Speeding is not frowned upon.

“There is less sense of a civic responsibility and the consequences are seen as God’s will rather than an aspect of human behaviour. There is a lack of understanding in mitigating risk, and expanding education could help to relieve the problem.”

Abu Dhabi traffic police are planning a driving-etiquette education campaign in schools, to try to change driving behaviour and attitudes.

Maj Awad Baloushi, the force’s head of media and marketing, said the campaign aimed to build communication bridges between school pupils and the traffic police, and would involve practical learning as well as theory.

Figures presented at the conference showed how the slightest increase in speed could increase the chances of an accident resulting in serious injury or death. Every 1kph increase in speed typically results in a three per cent increase in the likelihood of a crash resulting in injury, said Sudheer Venugopal, from Autograde, a company that makes speed-limiters. At a speed of 80kph, death in a crash is 20 times more likely than it would be at an impact speed of 20kph.

Pedestrians are also at significant risk.The probability of death in a vehicle-pedestrian accident is about 60 per cent with a speed impact of 45kph; at 80kph, it is nearly 100 per cent.

In Dubai, a 2009 law required that speed limiters be installed on all school buses. This makes it impossible for buses to exceed 80kph. Mr Venugopal said a similar trial project is also being implemented on 30 Dubai taxis, in which speed limiters will be installed with a 120kph limit.

 

Reducing the speed limit buffer on highways could reduce accidents by almost 95 per cent, DoT officials said at the road safety conference.

The speed buffer reduction was a quick-fix recommendation made by the DoT as part of its Speed Management Action Plan, which aims to reduce the percentage of drivers who speed to 20 per cent, from as many as 80 per cent, in the next three years.

Changing the enforcement speed to 150kph from 160kph on highways could lower the crash risk by 80 to 90 per cent, official said, while reducing it to 140kph, the current enforcement speed limit for highways in Dubai, could reduce the crash risk by 90 to 95 per cent.

Introducing regular and intensive patrols by unmarked vehicles equipped with cameras could reduce the crash risk by 70 to 80 per cent, they said.

Dr Arif Mehmood, a safety planning specialist at the DoT, said the plan would involve education, legislation and driver training to help curb speeding trends. Enforcement was the main concern shared by experts at the conference, who said drivers were more likely to travel at the actual limit if they knew there were no buffers.

 

 

mismail@thenational.ae