ABU DHABI // The days of driving faster than the speed limit on roads without seeing a radar flash may be about to end.
The buffer that allows drivers to exceed the posted limit by up to 20kph could be removed under proposals put forward by the Federal Traffic Council.
“The official speed limit is 120kph, but drivers can reach up to 140kph,” said Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zafeen, head of the council. “We’re proposing setting the maximum speed limit to 130kph, with no buffer.”
Dr Salaheddine Bendak, associate professor at the department of industrial engineering at the University of Sharjah, backed the plan.
“The 140kph speed limit is too high, based on research findings from countries with driving behaviour similar to the UAE,” Dr Bendak said. “But I think the speed limit should remain at 120kph, while the buffer should be reduced to 10kph.
“Not having a buffer will create problems for drivers and is a very rare practice.”
The council has also proposed raising the minimum speed limit on motorways from 60kph to 100kph to ease congestion and prevent rear-end collisions.
The plans have been submitted to a committee led by Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior.
“These things take time because once a proposal is put forward. It goes to several channels before it becomes part of the law,” Gen Al Zafeen said.
Large differences in the allowed speed increases the likelihood of a crash, he said.
“If you are driving at 120ph and the driver in front is driving at 60kph, to avoid a rear-end collision you may need to step on the brakes and cause a crash.”
A driver’s choice of speed can also mean risks for other road users, Gen Al Zafeen said.
“If someone wants to drive 60kph, he or she shouldn’t really be on the highway.”
But some road safety experts have voiced concerns at plans to raise the minimum.
Robert Hodges, chief operating officer at Emirates Driving Institute in Dubai, said 100kph was too fast and not safe.
“Many drivers have older cars or they are personally of a more nervous disposition and wish to drive slower,” Mr Hodges said.
“My preferred recommendation would be 80kph for a minimum speed, which is fast enough to keep traffic moving but not so fast to cause a driver to make poor or unsafe decisions while driving.”
Simon Labbett, project director at Sheida, the road safety standards body in Oman, said raising the minimum was inadvisable.
“I understand the intention and it is relevant that the speed between different vehicles along the same section of road can lead to increased collisions,” Mr Labbett said.
“If the minimum speed limit is raised, the likelihood of vehicles running into the back of stationary queues – will pose a significant road safety risk.”
The council has also recommended marking the speed limit on each lane to ensure that drivers stick to the limit and prevent slow motorists from lingering on the left-lane or passing lane.
“Marking the speed is a good idea as it helps to reinforce what the signs say,” Mr Hodges said.