Fog and adverse weather warning signs to be installed on UAE’s major roads

Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister, also told FNC members that GPS technology would be used to monitor school buses and pupils.
Sheikh Said bin Zayed revealed a fog warning system to the FNC. Ravindranath K / The National
Sheikh Said bin Zayed revealed a fog warning system to the FNC. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // A hi-tech warning system will soon be installed on roads across the country to urge motorists to slow down in heavy fog, it was announced during the FNC session yesterday.

Later this year, “smart towers” fitted with sensors will be installed on major routes, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Interior and Deputy Prime Minister, revealed during discussions with members about road and child-safety issues.

The sensors will connect to a police operations room where officers will be able to display messages to drivers via electronic sign boards about weather conditions, as well as appropriate speed limits, among others.

Sheikh Saif explained foggy conditions usually happened during the morning when roads are at their busiest.

After an infamous 200 car pile-up in 2008, which became known as “Fog Tuesday”, visits were conducted to countries that suffer heavy fog to explore possible safety measures, Brig Gen Hussain Al Harethi, Abu Dhabi traffic police director, explained.

“The [smart tower] devices are like radars, they will detect the fog situation. They are directly connected to the central operations room and National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology,” he said.

“Then, based on that the level of horizon view on the roads, they will set the appropriate speed limits and display it for road users.”

Sheikh Saif also announced plans to put cameras and speed monitors on school buses that will be connected to the police operations room.

The smart school buses will first be installed in Abu Dhabi before being rolled out in other emirates.

Each pupil will be provided with an e-card they will swipe to get onto the bus. This way schools and parents can track a child’s location.

Another proposal was lowering the legal driving age from 17 to 16.

Sheikh Saif said the Ministry was considering this measure under certain conditions and regulations.

“In the UAE we listen (to the idea) and do not reject it. We study and assess if it will have positive results,” he said.

“Some people have a problem with hiring a driver ... so it is better if he can get his son to drive him.

“They say ‘if I pay my son to drive and he takes on the duty (of driving) both of us will benefit’.”

However, there would be limitations on 16-year-old drivers as they might only be allowed on certain roads when accompanied by an adult, he added.

The session also revealed how road casualties had fallen 40 per cent since 2008, while last year 2,685 motorists who repeatedly offended were sent on driver’s rehab programmes.

FNC member Dr Amal Al Qubaisi also questioned the minister about the proposed traffic village to teach children road safety in a realistic environment.

“I am ready to set [the traffic village] in the ministry’s office if it will add new value,” said Sheikh Saif. “But the world is very advanced now, and I found Kidzania ... when I take the children there I get stuck with them and they won’t let me leave.”

The Ministry has also set itself a target of reducing its emergency response time to four minutes.

FNC member Ahmad Al Shamsi asked Sheikh Saif about attracting more UAE nationals to work for Saaed, the road service company that deals with minor accidents.

“Most employees doing this service are expats, but this service could attract many locals,” he said, noting that

Saaed had already reached 20 per cent Emiratisation and was aiming for 80 per cent.

Strategies are also being implemented to reach that target by promising Emiratis who finish two years of meritorious service with Saaed a chance to enter the police force.

According to Brig Gen Al Harethi, however, the problem rests with UAE nationals not with the working conditions.

“The UAE national tends to resign after three years of field service. The environment is ready for Emiratisation but the problem lies in the local himself, whenever he finds a government job he resigns.”

hdajani@thenational.ae

Published: May 6, 2014 04:00 AM

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