Plans to introduce unified speed limits on the UAE's main roads are still under discussion, according to a senior UAE police chief.
The traffic buffer allowing drivers to travel up to 20kph above the advertised speed limit was scrapped in Abu Dhabi last month by police and the Department of Transport in an effort to standardise official speed limits, improve road safety and clear up confusion over how fast motorists are permitted to travel.
But the buffer remains in place on major routes throughout the rest of the Emirates.
Drivers travelling on Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai, for example, can drive up to 20kph above the speed limit displayed on road signs.
But they must adhere to the stated limits when they cross into Abu Dhabi.
Maj Gen Mohammed Al Zafeen, chairman of the Federal Traffic Council and assistant commander-in-chief of Dubai Police, told a meeting of the council, which is comprised of police chiefs, that the unification of speed limits across the UAE needs to be studied more thoroughly.
He said more research needed to be carried out into how the scheme can contribute to a reduction in traffic accidents on the UAE’s roads.
Motorists said they wanted to see a standard speed limit introduced on all major roads.
“If they are to remove the speed buffer and unify speed limits at the same time, I would really like to see reasonable speed limits on major motorways, specifically Emirates Road, which I take on a daily basis,” said Adam Mahmoud, 36, of Ajman. “I feel 140kph is reasonable on this road.”
Yara Michelle, 38, who lives in Ajman, says she has had to pay the price for the variations in speed limits on UAE roads.
“I was once driving back from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, and the speed limit was 80kph as per the sign,” she said.
“I was driving within the speed limits, but when I entered Dubai, I was flashed by the radar for speeding because the road speed was different, but there were no signs for that.”
Not all drivers support the removal of the buffer.
“Sometimes I would be driving behind a motorist who is barely doing the speed limit and I want to overtake him,” said Ibrahim Mohammed, 45, from Sharjah.
“The speed buffer keeps me within speed limits in this case, but had it been removed, I will be fined and stuck behind a slow driver on a motorway,” he said.
Road safety campaigner Thomas Edelmann, founder of RoadSafetyUAE, has led calls for the buffer to be abolished nationwide.
“We have been lobbying for many years to remove the allowance buffer because it does not exist in other countries and it might confuse motorists and can be used as an excuse,” he said.
Saeed Al Remeithi, a member of the Federal National Council, said the buffer had caused confusion as well as accidents. "Part of the problem has been those who are aware of the buffer drive fast, while people such as tourists, who don't, drive slower. This has caused confusion as well as accidents," he said.
The Federal Traffic Council meeting also heard that the number of road deaths had dropped by 8 per cent in the first eight months of the year, from 362 for the same period last year, to 333 this year.