Stop driving on hard shoulders or face harsh penalties, UAE motorists warned

The Abu Dhabi safety and traffic solutions committee has warned motorists not to drive on the hard shoulder or face severe penalties.

ABU DHABI // Motorists have been warned that they will face severe penalties if they drive on the hard shoulder.

This week, the Abu Dhabi safety and traffic solutions committee launched an awareness campaign through newspaper advertisements and social media to tackle this persistent problem.

The hard shoulder was designed for emergency use by official vehicles only and driving on it or using it to overtake hinders the tasks of emergency vehicles, the committee said.

Although the exact number of hard shoulder drivers was not available, of 2,494 offences captured on speed cameras in August and September last year, it was among the most common.

The penalty for overtaking on the hard shoulder is Dh600 and six points on the driver’s licence.

“World’s best practice reinforces the importance of the 3Es in road safety: environment, education and engineering,” said Khaled Al Mansoori, the vice chief executive at Emirates Driving Company (EDC) who welcomed the initiative of the committee. “Of critical importance is the 4th E, which is engagement of the road user.”

Using the hard shoulder puts motorists and other road users in danger, said Dino Kalivas, EDC’s director of training. “It reduces visibility for drivers in the extreme left lane, and causes confusion for other drivers who may inadvertently use the hard shoulder while observing others,” he said.

Mr Kalivas, who is also the chairman of the driver education and training committee at the International Road Federation, said overtaking on the shoulder was illegal.

“It can unsettle other drivers in the lane nearest to the shoulder, leading to sudden and unpredictable lane changes by other drivers,” he said.

Thomas Edelmann, founder of website Road Safety UAE, agreed.

“Other drivers might get startled or scared when another vehicle appears where it should not be, and this can result in abrupt movements of the steering wheel which can, in turn, cause accidents,” he said. “Another dangerous driving behaviour we see in this context, is a vehicle reversing on the hard shoulder when the driver missed an exit. This is a recipe for disaster.”

Drivers must be reminded of the road rules and understand the various risks they run themselves and create for others, Mr Edelmann said. “Fines are there to punish those who do not want to obey to rules, but more importantly, drivers must understand ‘why’.” he said.

Mr Kalivas, meanwhile, warned that the hard shoulder builds up layers of fine dust, rubbish and other material that can cause sudden tyre blow-outs.

“Many hard shoulders are often in poor state and have large depressions or damage that can unsettle vehicles and cause them to deviate dangerously,” he said.

During theory classes at EDC, learner drivers are taught the importance of hard shoulder rules.

“EDC strictly advises drivers to avoid using the shoulder unless in an emergency where their vehicle or themselves are at serious risk,” Mr Al Mansoori said.

“Our students are advised that the hard shoulder remains open and free from all traffic except for the specific use of official vehicles such police, civil defence and ambulance service.”

Strict enforcement of the existing road rules and awareness campaigns are needed to enhance road safety, said Mr Edelmann.

“Drivers must have the feeling of being observed when they break the rules,” he said. “The stick approach must be accompanied by long-lasting and permanent educational campaigns.”

rruiz@thenational.ae

Published: May 7, 2014 04:00 AM

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