Speeding fines are set to be halved to soften the blow for motorists caught on radar as the 20kph buffer is scrapped in favour of a new system of strict adherence to displayed limits.
From Sunday, drivers throughout Abu Dhabi will no longer be allowed to exceed stated speed limits without penalties.
According to a source, financial penalties for drivers caught driving above the displayed speed limit will have their fines reduced to Dh300 from Dh600. Under the new ruling, many speed limits will be raised to the top end of the buffer and motorists will face fines if they are caught driving, for example, 121kph in a 120kph zone.
An online poll of The National's readers' views on the removal of the buffer that had allowed drivers to exceed designated speed limits has shown opinion divided on how effective the changes may be.
Although nearly half of fatal road accidents are caused by speeding, a survey of almost 500 readers found almost all drivers were aware of the 20kph buffers and that the majority had made use of them.
Forty-two per cent of respondents said they would change the way they drive following the scrapping of the buffers. Some 35 per cent said the removal of the 20kph buffer would improve safety, as it had created confusion, and 22 per cent said it was too early to tell.
Forty-three per cent said the buffer had worked well for them previously, however.
Although the changes apply to Abu Dhabi, they will not be applicable on the rest of the country's roads where the 20kph buffers will remain.
Of those completing the online survey, 82 per cent want the same rules applied across the country, and not just in the capital.
David Fox, a British resident who has accumulated 10 speeding tickets since living in the country, does not expect the changes to alter his driving habits.
“I expect many people will be caught out driving between emirates as the rules are different, the buffer can be confusing,” he said.
“It would make more sense to have it as a national approach rather than just Abu Dhabi.
“Speed controls seem to vary, and I’m not sure how effective they are from a safety perspective.”
Last year, official figures showed 230 out of 525 road traffic fatalities in the UAE were caused by speeding. Abu Dhabi Police, the Department of Transport and the Urban Planning Department have said the removal of the buffers will improve road safety.
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 changes, speed limit signs on highways will be made uniform and changed from 100kph to read 120kph, for example. Other sections of road with existing signs showing 120kph will be replaced with 140kph signs.
Police said the new road signs will be developed along the roads of Abu Dhabi, its border crossings and the beginning of roads linking it to Dubai and other emirates.
“Abu Dhabi Police call on drivers to adhere to new speeds to enhance our efforts to improve traffic safety, thereby reducing traffic accidents caused by speeding for the safety of all,” a spokesman said.