At present, most roads in Abu Dhabi have a buffer that allows motorists to travel 20kph faster than the advertised speed limit without being fined
Abu Dhabi plans to abolish 20kph speed buffer on some major roads awaiting official approval
An Abu Dhabi Police official has said that plans to abolish a speed limit buffer on certain roads in the capital are going ahead but are awaiting official approval from the Department of Traffic.
Once approved, police will begin awareness campaigns to inform the public of the change.
At present, most roads in Abu Dhabi have a buffer that allows motorists to travel 20kph faster than the advertised speed limit without being fined. A driver can travel at 140kph in a 120kph zone and 120kph in a 100kph zone. And speed cameras are only set off at 141kph or 121kph.
Doing away with the buffer will mean that motorists travelling on roads advertised at 120kph will be fined for speeding should they drive at 121kph or faster.
A senior official at Abu Dhabi Traffic Police said they were ready to phase out the old speed limits and buffer but were awaiting approval before an official announcement could be made and campaigns to notify the public are launched.
“The signs are ready but we are waiting for confirmation from the Department of Transport and the Executive Council, and there will be a press announcement with regards to that,” he told The National.
He said the public needed to be made aware that the buffer was being abolished so as not to get caught out.
“We are ready but waiting to spread the news and awareness. It is not enough to just change the signs,” he said.
For months, new traffic signs covered in blue plastic have been displayed on top of the smaller original speed limits on many of the capital’s roads including Khaleej Al Arabi, Corniche Road and the main Dubai to Abu Dhabi Road, the E11.
In most cases the new speed limit can be seen beneath the plastic, indicating a 20kph increase on the current advertised limit on those roads. Despite the increase in the advertised speed limit, the actual limit will not have changed due to the elimination of the 20kph buffer.
Previously, the police official said the move is intended to prevent confusion and improve road safety.
“If the sign says 140, the radar will catch them on 141,” he said.
The speed limit on some roads may be changed as well, he said, but that is yet to be confirmed.
Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE, welcomed the plans first reported by The National in February, saying he has long urged the authorities to put an end to the buffer.
“We have been lobbying for many years to remove the allowance buffer as it does not exist in other countries and it might confuse motorists and can be used as an excuse,” he said.
He also urged the other emirates to follow suit.
The UAE’s system is regarded as granting significantly more leeway than any other countries, many of which heavily fine drivers for any breach of the limit or at most offer several kilometres' grace. Police have considered the move in the past but the rules remained the same.
In August last year, Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zafeen, assistant commander-in-chief of the Dubai Police, asked the public on Twitter if they believe the 20kph speed buffer and the fine should be kept or cancelled, and if the fine for breaking the speed limit should be reduced to Dh300 from Dh600.
At the time he said there were no firm plans yet to do away with the buffer in Dubai but that he wanted to hear from drivers.
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Road in Abu Dhabi is among the first roads in the capital to do away with the speed buffer and boasts the highest speed limit in the country at 160kph.
The speed cameras on the highway that links the city with Al Dhafra Region and Saudi Arabia, are set to record at 161kph.