Drivers learn new road signs to navigate around Dubai Tram

Driving schools are being told to educate students in new signs that will appear alongside the tram system, which begins running in November.

There have been a number of high-profile road accidents involving trams worldwide in recent months. AFP Photo
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DUBAI // Drivers are being educated about new road signs related to the tram system, which is due to begin operating in November.

The Roads and Transport Authority instructed driving schools to teach road etiquette related to trams and about the new signs warning drivers where the tracks intersect with the road.

The schools have been covering the tram rules for two weeks.

It is the first step in an education campaign by the authority, which will be widened to existing motorists in Dubai and across the country.

“The tram is a totally different system to the Metro,” said Ahmed Hashem Behroozian, chief executive of the authority’s Licensing Agency.

“The Metro has no interaction with road users, whereas with a tram, there are certain areas where the tram route intersects with the road.

“There will be special traffic lights and signs. People’s knowledge of the tram signs, the signalling and how it all ties together will be very critical.”

Motorists will be taught about issues including the dangers of littering and obstructing the tramway, crossing and entry restrictions, and what the priority tracks for tram movement are.

More details about the new code will be available to existing drivers in the coming weeks.

There have been a number of high-profile road accidents involving trams worldwide in recent months.

In September, a driver was killed after their car collided with a tram in Melbourne, Australia.

Philip Clarke, a principal road-safety consultant at the Transport Research Laboratory in Abu Dhabi, said it was important for new and existing road users to be aware of the new system.

“There is a risk if a tram is being added to an existing road infrastructure if drivers aren’t aware of the road signs and how it will all work,” he said.

“In that respect, it’s good that the awareness campaign is starting now. The momentum needs to be maintained for the next few months until the launch to make sure everyone is aware.”

Mr Behroozian said the authority was planning on carrying out audits of driving schools to ensure that all instructors were teaching students about the new system.

The authority will also add several questions to its driving theory test to ensure motorists have studied and understand the new signs.

It is not known when the signs will appear on the street.

Dubai Tram will loop around Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residences, as well as head along Al Sufouh Road past Media City, the Palm Jumeirah and Knowledge Village, among other places.

Mr Behroozian said other departments within the authority would be carrying out a wider awareness campaign to ensure that existing drivers were aware of the rules.

“This campaign will not only be for people who live in Dubai but people who live in other emirates, too, and visit Dubai often,” he said. “The awareness has to be across the UAE, and perhaps across the GCC, too.”

Once the signs are in place and the tram starts operating, there will be fines for traffic breaches, Mr Behroozian said, although he was not aware of the specific amounts.

P M A Razak, the assistant manager for the instructor training centre at the Emirates Driving Institute, said students were interested in how the new system would work.

“We are ensuring that all our instructors are teaching new students,” he said. “Our students have a lot of questions and are anxious to see how the new system will work.”