End of the 20kph buffer? UAE police ask public for views on ending leeway on speeding

Current rules allow drivers to hit almost 140kph on a 120kph motorway

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 )
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Members of the public have been asked if the 20kph buffer afforded to speeding drivers should be kept or axed, as part of plans to improve road safety.

A driver travelling on the E11 between Dubai and Abu Dhabi - a 120kph road - can reach 139kph without being clocked by a speed camera.

Drivers who exceed the speed margin currently have to pay a fine of Dh600.

Major General Mohammed Saif Al Zafeen, head of the Federal National Council and assistant commander-in-chief of the Dubai Police, asked the public on Twitter if they believe the 20kph speed buffer and the fine be kept or cancelled, and if the fine should be reduced to or not Dh300.

The UAE's system is regarded as granting significantly more leeway than any other countries, many of which heavily fine drivers for any breach of the limit, or at most offer several kilometres grace. Police have considered the move in the past but the rules remained the same.

Nour Naboulsi, a 32-year-old Lebanese expat, said that ending the speed buffer would cut the number of speed-related accidents.

“There are so many motorists who take advantage of the speeding buffer and go up to 140kph. Reducing it will definitely change many reckless motorists' attitudes,” said Mrs Naboulsi.

But Jamal Mahmoud, 53, a Jordanian car dealership owner from Sharjah, said the buffer should be kept, but that the fine system could be used to better deter speeding.

He said if drivers rack up fines they should hang over them for six months, to give them chance to improve their driving. If they're caught again, then they'd have to pay out.

“Motorists can’t drive 100kph on that many roads and there are several roads in the emirate where the speed limit is only 80kph,” he said.

Usman Khalid, a Pakistani taxi driver in Dubai, said limits have already come down on many of the major roads, and that it is only motorways such as Sheikh Zayed Road, the E11 and Emirates Road with high speeds.

"There are roads where speed limit is set on 80kph, so with the speed buffer motorists you will be driving a maximum of 100kph," he said.

Maj Gen Al Zafeen said there are no firm plans yet but that he wanted to hear from drivers.

Twenty-nine people died in traffic accidents in the first seven months of 2017 in Dubai. Speeding was the second most most common cause of accidents.

Thomas Edelmann, founder of Road Safety UAE, said the current system is confusing for drivers.

“For instance, a red light is a red light, a yield sign is a yield sign, a no-overtaking sign is a no-overtaking sign, also a 120 kph max speed sign must be what it means,” he said.

“This simple and clear rule is applied around the world and it must also be applied in the UAE. It is one step towards streamlining the UAE traffic rules which just got a fantastic boost with the the new traffic amendments," he said in reference to the mandatory seatbelt law and child car seat rules.

"As speeding remains the number two cause of deaths on our roads, everything must be done to protect and educate motorists, and clear and precise rules help in this context,” said Mr Thomas.

Mr Thomas that enforcement on the roads must increase.

“New technologies, such as the section control, average speed measurement, more mobile radars, and more police presence on the roads will contribute to reducing the number of motorists who commit traffic offences and reduce the number of deaths on the roads."