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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Speed limits to be cut during hazardous weather conditions in Abu Dhabi

New safety scheme will allow speed limits to be reduced during low visibility

Speed limits will be reduced in Abu Dhabi during periods of low visibility caused by weather conditions such as dust storms and fog. Pawan Singh / The National 
Speed limits will be reduced in Abu Dhabi during periods of low visibility caused by weather conditions such as dust storms and fog. Pawan Singh / The National 

Abu Dhabi's transport authority has given the green-light for a new safety scheme slashing speeds on roads during hazardous weather conditions.

The Department of Transport's traffic safety committee has agreed a plan to cut speed limits to 80kph when visibility for drivers is reduced to 200 metres or less.

Motorists will be alerted to the reduced speed limits by notices on smart towers - structures displaying road messages - located on routes throughout the emirate.

The scheme will allow authorities to swiftly reduce limits and improve safety with quick effect during fog and dust storms.

Abu Dhabi's transport authority has been hailed for "embracing technology" to help make the roads safer, by a leading campaigner.

But Thomas Edelmann, managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, says drivers must also be accountable for their own actions when travelling during adverse weather.

“It should go without saying that the speed limit has to go down and the distance between vehicles has to go up when visibility is poor,” said Mr Edelmann

“The level of driver attention also has to go up as well. The main point is that speed should go down though.

“This is a great initiative and it is good to see authorities embracing technology to improve road safety and not just talking about it.

“This is also tangible proof of the technology that the UAE has to make these things happen.”

Stephen Levins, 35, from Ireland, a business consultant who regularly completes the Dubai to Abu Dhabi commute has backed the move, but is unsure how it will work in practice.

“This sounds great in theory but I am not sure how they will manage this or decide when speed limits can or can’t be decreased,” he said.

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“Hazardous weather can often be a matter of opinion and often comes down to the quality and experience of the driver. Speed limits and rule changes happen quite often but some people are going to drive the way they want to anyway.”

Speed cameras will be adjusted accordingly to ensure drivers are penalised if they breach the temporary limits.

The initiative was announced by the traffic committee on Wednesday.

The towers carrying the modified speed limits have been installed on Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Street, on the stretch between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and Sheikh Khalifa Street.

All vehicles will be asked to follow the announced speeds until visibility returns to safe levels.

For roads without smart towers, a fixed speed sign with a traffic light will be installed to signal the change in speed limits.

Visibility levels will be monitored using channels such as the National Centre of Meteorology, while visibility sensors will be fixed to smart towers.

The Department of Transport is reminding motorists to keep to safe distances between vehicles and not to overtake or change lanes when visibility is low.

In May, police in Dubai said they recorded 400 accidents - from shunts to bumps - on a single Sunday when a dust storm swept over the city.

Despite the conditions many motorists continued to tailgate at speed and swerve between lanes, police said.