UAE explained: can I be fined for exceeding temporary speed limits when fog hits?

Police in Abu Dhabi have restricted speed limits during this week's prolonged period of hazardous weather

Powered by automated translation

Speed limits in Abu Dhabi have been slashed after thick fog swept through the capital this week.

Abu Dhabi Police took the steps to boost safety on the roads during the hazardous weather. Authorities reduced speed limits to 80kph on certain routes.

Anyone caught exceeding the lowered limits would be fined.

Police also introduced a ban on heavy vehicles in the capital while visibility is poor.

How does the 80kph speed limit work during bad weather?

This rule was introduced in early 2019 and has been enforced numerous times, including this week.

It means, during times when visibility is reduced due to sandstorms, heavy rain or fog, the speed limit will be reduced to 80 kilometres per hour on Abu Dhabi’s motorways. Compliance is not optional.

Where the digital signs say the speed limit is 80kph, it means the limit has officially been changed to this speed and anyone driving faster than that will be fined, police told The National.

How do we know the speed limit has changed?

Abu Dhabi Police inform the public in several ways: by sending out emergency alerts, displaying the new speed on digital road signs on smart gates, changing the speed limit on variable speed signs at the side of highways and by posting on social media.

Police decide when to do this using weather reports, fog sensors installed on smart gates that estimate the visibility range, and reports from police patrols.

Once the regular speed limit has been restored, the variable speed signs will be switched off and the 80kph limit will disappear from the digital signs on the smart gates. Text messages may also be sent out to motorists and social media accounts will be updated.

What if the fog has lifted in the section of road I am driving in? Is it OK to drive at the normal speed limit again?

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , January 19– View of the early morning fog from 2:30 am to 5 am around Dubai EXPO 2020 metro line between Al Furjan and Discovery Gardens area in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The Nationals) For News/Stock/Online/Instagram/Standalone/Big Picture.
Thick fog makes for challenging driving conditions in the UAE. Pawan Singh / The National    

No, do not drive faster until you see the changes above, or you risk being fined.

The key thing to keep in mind here is that if the sign says the speed limit reduction is in place, it still is – even if a particular stretch of road is clear of fog or heavy rain at that moment. Numerous people have found out the hard way, with some racking up hundreds of dirhams in fines as a result.

"Road users should not drive at the regular speed limit simply once 'they' determine it is safe to do so. Instead Abu Dhabi police are the authority that determines when it is safe to drive at regular speeds," Capt Mohammed Al Eisaei, head of the Traffic Studies and Research Branch at Abu Dhabi Police told The National last year.

“Road users should be alert to variable speed signs on the side of the road and variable message signs on smart traffic gates which clearly display the current speed limit of the highway.”

Fatal accidents highlights need to take care during fog

One person died and eight others were injured in a 19-vehicle pile-up in Abu Dhabi as heavy fog shrouded the emirate on Tuesday morning.

Abu Dhabi Police sent out a safety warning to the public after the fatal accident was caused by drivers failing to take account of the hazardous weather.

The force said motorists did not leave adequate distance between other vehicles, leading to the multi-vehicle crash on a road in Al Muqatara, leading to Al Mafraq.

Police said the person who died was from an Asian country, but did not reveal any further details.

Those hurt in the crash, which involved cars and larger vehicles, suffered minor to moderate injuries.