DUBAI // More than 15,000 vehicles were confiscated by Dubai Police in the first six months of the year, and officials believe the number could increase dramatically once new "smart" patrol vehicles are deployed. Smart patrol cars are fitted with cameras that scan number plates, allowing police to identify any vehicle wanted for criminal or traffic offences - including those operating with expired registrations.
People caught driving with expired registrations will have their cars confiscated on the spot until they pay all their fines and renew the registration. Smart patrol technology was introduced about two months ago, and the traffic department has to date equipped 50 of its 120 cars with cameras. "The patrols are already surveying cars for criminal issues, but checking traffic records will soon be their main task," said Lt Col Saif Muhair al Mazrouei, the acting director of the department.
There will be fixed patrols on several roads including Al Mamzar, Al Khail, Al Etihad, Amman, Damascus and Jumeirah Beach Road. "These patrols will facilitate our work and make it more efficient by eliminating the need for random checks of the two million cars on Dubai roads daily," said Lt Col al Mazrouei. The new procedures are part of the department's aim to reach a zero death rate per 100,000 inhabitants on Dubai roads by 2020. More than 1,300 road accidents were reported in Dubai within the first six months of the year, including 90 fatalities. Last year, the death rate per 100,000 was 12.9. The department is seeking a level between 11.8 and 12.5 by the end of this year.
The department believes that ensuring car registrations are up to date may help it reach its target. "Before one can renew registration, the car has to undergo a check and get approved. Expired registration may indicate the car is not suitable to drive and could cause accidents. Worn-out tyres is one reason for fatal accidents," Lt Col al Mazrouei said. Apart from the cost of safe car maintenance, Lt Col al Mazrouei believes that the practice of paying off fines before renewing registration may be one of the reasons motorists allow their registration to lapse. "The majority are discouraged [from renewing] by the big fines they have accumulated," he said. The department has given those with traffic fines of more than Dh5,000 the option of paying them off in instalments. Motorists can pay 30 per cent of the total amount outstanding, and the remainder in monthly instalments. "People tend to forget they have to pay these big amounts because they violated rules in the first place," said Lt Col al Mazrouei. email@example.com Correction: This article was altered on August 4 to reflect the fact 15,000 vehicles have been seized by Dubai Police in the first six months of the year for various traffic and criminal offences - not just lapsed registrations