Abu Dhabi 20kph speed limit buffer to be removed in August

Speed limits on roads in the emirate will also be amended

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES -  April 24, 2011:  Stock photos of the new highway speed sign on the Abu Dhabi to Dubai highway (E10 / E11) near Shahama.   ( DELORES JOHNSON / The National )
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

The buffer that allows drivers to travel up to 20km above the advertised speed limit on UAE roads will be removed in Abu Dhabi next month.

Abu Dhabi Police, the Department of Transport and the Urban Planning Department said the move will improve road safety.

The buffer will be abolished on August 12, to be replaced by uniform speed limits on roads.

The new ruling will lead to speed limits on roads being changed and aims to provide clarity on the speeds drivers can legally travel. The statement noted that speed limits will be standardised but did not specify whether or not the official speed limit would be increased.

Drastic variations in vehicle speed are a leading cause of crashes.

Road infrastructure must be taken into account when setting new limits, Dr Yaser Hawas, a professor of transportation and traffic engineering at UAE University and director of the university’s Roadway, Transportation and Traffic Safety Research Center said.

“Whatever that they are going to allow, it shouldn’t exceed the road’s design speed,” said Dr Hawas.

“If they raise the limit, they are giving the message that this road is well designed to accommodate driving at that limit.”

Stephen Levins, a business consultant who commutes between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, welcomed the idea of removing the buffer.

“Coming from Europe, it just didn’t make sense to me in general,” said Mr Levins, 35, who is from Ireland. “The speed limit is the speed limit and that’s what you should do.

“Because you’re allowed to do an extra 20kph, some people do 120, some do 130, and some do 140 and it causes confusion on the road. I think they just need to make the rule very clear and defined.”

Road safety experts have long encouraged authorities to abolish the buffer.

Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE, had previously told The National: "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.

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.

The existing buffer allows motorists to travel at 20kph more than the advertised speed limit, meaning the 120kph advertised limit for the E11 is in fact 140kph, for example. Drivers would then be fined if they were clocked driving at 141kph.

Under the new ruling, motorists will face fines if they are caught driving 121kph in a 120kph zone.

Maj Gen Mohammed Al Rumaithi, commander of the Abu Dhabi Police General Directorate, called on motorists to respect the new speed ruling, which are designed for new road networks and rising congestion levels.

A comprehensive campaign will be introduced - using platforms such as social media, displays on public transport vehicles, taxis and in newspapers - to make the public aware of changes in speed limits and the removal of the 20km buffer.


Read more:

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

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


Crashes on the main Abu Dhabi-Dubai road dropped by almost a third in the year after the enforced speed limit was reduced from 140kph to 160kph in 2011. A study by UAE University found that it had successfully reduced the variation in the speed of traffic. "If the number of accidents is too high, maybe they will reduce the speed further," said Lt Col Ahmed Al Zayoudi, head of the crash section for the Abu Dhabi police at the time.