x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Beware the sleeping lorry drivers

Lorries, often driven by sleepy drivers, are a big problem on the roads of Al Gharbia.

Lorries lined up in a parking lot at Jebel Ali Port.
Lorries lined up in a parking lot at Jebel Ali Port.

Drunk drivers, flooding, sand on the motorway, drag racers - none of those are the greatest peril for motorists in Al Gharbia.

That dishonour goes to lorry drivers, especially the ones who are half asleep.

Severe crashes in the region are often caused by drowsy truck drivers who forego sleep to earn the extra money to be gained by faster delivery.

"When they come from Saudi Arabia, the lorry drivers, they don't sleep actually, and they come tired to Abu Dhabi, to Ghweifat," said Lt Col Ahmed Al Zayoudi, head of the crash section for Abu Dhabi Police.

"They want to work hard without sleeping and there's no place for them to rest. The problem is with lorries and big buses, when there are accidents they are big accidents and a lot of people die."

The municipality has called on the emirate's Department of Transport officials for more regulation on overweight lorries, and a truck road from Madinat Zayed to Liwa is planned.

It is hoped that the 2013 opening of first section of Etihad Rail will alleviate some problems.

The 226-kilometre line between Habshan and Ruwais is to connect to Shah by 2014 and eventually other emirates and GCC countries.

According to Nooh Al Hammadi, business development manager for Etihad Rail, a fully loaded train can replace 300 lorries.

Adnan Al Hammadi, an Emirati business student from Mirfa, has had two close calls with lorries on the E11. On one occasion, he could see the lorry driver drifting off to asleep.

"Inside Mirfa the roads are fine but the problem is the main roads that connect the western region," he said. "At night we cannot see other trucks, other cars. There is no lighting and it's very dangerous. Sometimes you find some pieces of vehicles on the roads."

Road and infrastructure projects are badly needed, he said. He has lost two friends because of the dangerous roads of Al Gharbia.

azacharias@thenational.ae