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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Exclusive: Abu Dhabi to phase out 20kph speed buffer on some major roads

New speed signs will display the actual limit, a police official said

Police are warning parents over the dangers of underage driving after 342 people aged under 18 were arrested in Abu Dhabi in the last six months. Victor Besa / The National
Police are warning parents over the dangers of underage driving after 342 people aged under 18 were arrested in Abu Dhabi in the last six months. Victor Besa / The National

The buffer that allows motorists to travel at 20kph more than the advertised speed limit is set to be phased out on a number of Abu Dhabi roads, in a move welcomed by road safety campaigners.

A police official said the decision is intended to prevent confusion and improve road safety.

Motorists have spotted signs covered in plastic in recent days that will be unveiled as part of a new campaign.

This includes the main Dubai to Abu Dhabi Road - the E11.

At present, a driver would be able to travel at 140kph in a 120kph zone and 120kph in a 100kph zone. Speed cameras would only be set off at 141kph or 121kph.

“If the sign says 140, the radar will catch them on 141,” a senior officer told the The National.

The speed limit on some roads may be changed as well, he said, but that is yet to be confirmed.

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Read more:

End of the 20kph buffer? UAE police ask public for views on ending allowance.

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The first sign of the planned change came last week when the new motorway between Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Road, was opened with a 160kph limit with no buffer. Cameras are set off at 161kph.

Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE, has long urged the authorities to put an end to the buffer and welcomed the decision.

“The rules have to be clear. A road sign with a speed limit must display the enforced speed limit," he said.

“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."

“We applaud Abu Dhabi Police in going ahead and putting an end to this confusing situation."

He urged the other emirates to follow suit.

Signs on the E11 Dubai to Abu Dhabi road are expected to be unveiled soon and make drivers aware there is no longer a 20kph speed buffer. Victor Besa / The National
Signs on the E11 Dubai to Abu Dhabi road are expected to be unveiled soon and make drivers aware there is no longer a 20kph speed buffer. Victor Besa / The National

Mr Edelmann said he hoped to see more mobile radars and police officers with speed guns deployed to catch out drivers.

Many commuters know where fixed cameras are and simply hit the breaks as they approach them.

“The fixed radar installations we see all over the UAE are often nothing other than 'electronic speed bumps', meaning that motorists break harshly just before a radar installation and accelerate right after it,” he said.

“We support all action taken by Abu Dhabi Police to adjust and lower speed limits, they have done this is a very responsible manner."

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