Abu Dhabi making strides in traffic management

A complicated web of technology is being installed around the emirate to ensure the highest standards in traffic safety.

Abu Dhabi is implementing a smart traffic system aimed at making the emirate’s roads among the safest in the world. Silvia Razgova / The National
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ABU DHABI // A road safety expert believes Abu Dhabi is on the right track to cutting traffic congestion and limiting crashes.

Akin Adamson, Middle East director for Transport Research Laboratory, said the emirate was doing all the right things in terms of the technologies being put in place in traffic control systems, traffic counts and the measurement of speed and congestion.

“As it happens, these are also the right things that provide the building blocks for a smart traffic environment,” said Mr Adamson on Monday on the sidelines of the Smart Traffic Middle East 2015 conference.

Hamad Al Afeefi, the Department of Transport (DoT) acting director of traffic management and technology, outlined the smart traffic initiatives being put in place.

Abu Dhabi has plans to operate traffic-control centres in Mohammed bin Zayed City and in Al Ain to integrate tunnel management and deploy an emirate-wide intelligent transportation system.

“We have set a clear vision and will continue to update it as needed every four years,” Mr Al Afeefi said. “We are committed to supporting the leadership in their relentless efforts to achieve the goal to be among the world’s top-five best governments.”

Other smart traffic plans include regional management hubs, real-time passenger information and a parking guidance system.

“From 2010 to the present, one of our achievements is the LED-based traffic signals, which have improved the safety of road users,” Mr Al Afeefi said.

The lights save energy and provide clear signal colours. Their lifespan is at least five years, which reduces maintenance costs.

Abu Dhabi’s real-time data collection system uses Bluetooth technology. So far, 285 BlueMac units have been deployed on motorways leading onto and off Abu Dhabi island, and on the island itself.

Abu Dhabi’s traffic management centre has also started implementing vehicle-actuated signal timings at 109 sites. The technology uses sensors to detect the weight of a vehicle and changes signals to serve the fluctuating demand.

“It has helped ease congestion and reduced travel time and delay, fuel consumption and vehicle emissions and resulted in improved air quality,” Mr Al Afeefi said.

A traffic-count system that uses microwave sensors is now in place, with 137 stations covering all major roads in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and the Western Region.

The DoT is implementing a Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique system that manages and controls 125 traffic signals on Abu Dhabi island. It uses about 20 sensors at each intersection to monitor and report traffic volume.

“Hopefully, by the end of this year, Abu Dhabi island will be running under this system,” Mr Al Afeefi said.

Abu Dhabi also has an integrated travel information and navigation services system. It provides real-time information on traffic congestion, route guidance and other conditions that can be accessed via smartphone, the internet and in-car navigation devices.