Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: Drivers in the emirate of Abu Dhabi who have been accustomed to having a 20km/h grace speed allowance will no longer have that luxury from August 12 after the Abu Dhabi Police announced its removal on Wednesday, with new speed limit signboards set to be placed along all roads over the next few weeks.

So how will the new system work?

According to the Abu Dhabi Police, the amended speed limits will no longer include the 20km/h grace speed, with the new system having one set of speed limit numbers that everyone will have to follow. For example, if a road has a speed limit sign of 80km/h, there will no longer be a grace speed allowing drivers to speed up to 100km/h as the current system works. Drivers who speed to 81km/h will be caught by radars and receive a ticketing fine.

And so with the grace speed removed, what will the new speed limits be? According to the Abu Dhabi Police, a road that currently has a speed sign of 60km/h will be amended to 80km/h, and highways with 120km/h will be amended to 140km/h and so on. Drivers who go over these new speed limits will be fined for speeding.

Major-General Mohammad Khalfan Al Rumaithi, Commander-in-Chief of Abu Dhabi Police, said a comprehensive study was undertaken before deciding to implement the new system, which he said would help raise road safety standards.

Maj-Gen Al Rumaithi added that the police were working together with the Department of Transport and Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities to implement the new procedures.

 A comprehensive study was undertaken before deciding to implement the new system, which will help raise road safety standards.”

 - Maj Gen Mohammad Khalfan Al Rumaithi | Abu Dhabi Police chief 

He said a major awareness campaign was also going to be launched to inform the public about the new system through social media, newspapers, radio, and public announcements on big screens at shopping malls.

Colonel Jamal Al Ameri, executive director of Saaed Society and a traffic expert, said that eliminating the grace speed would lead to less confusion among drivers and leave no room for ambiguity.

“Having one speed system brings more stability to our roads and allows drivers to know what the speed limit is without any doubts or confusion. Drivers will not have to guess the margin of speed they can go over as the new signboards will make it clear what speed limits they must adhere to while driving.

“These new rules come within the framework of enhancing traffic safety for the general public, and I hope we can see this also implemented on a federal level as well with all of the emirates,” he added.

What motorists think

Adel Abdul Wahid, Emirati
“I think that this is the right decision because from now on drivers will focus on one speed limit number instead of two. So if a speed limit is 100km/h, that is the only speed limit you have to stick to and so it makes things simpler. I’ve driven in many other countries in Europe and over there it’s just one speed limit that everyone has to follow, there aren’t two different ones and so I think it’s good to have a similar system.”

Tejwind Singh, India
“I support this decision and I think it should be done across the entire country as well. Having one set of speed limits is more convenient for drivers, sometimes the speed sign will say 60km/h and there is another driver behind you who wants to speed up to 80km/h because of the grace speed and so you have to constantly move out of the way or have them flashing their lights at you.”

Asaad Abdullah, Pakistan
“It’s an excellent decision by the Abu Dhabi Police, which I believe will make our roads safer. The grace speed always make many drivers speed too fast, which creates a dangerous situation on the roads that can lead to accidents and deaths. By having one speed system, all drivers will be driving at the same speed. If a road’s speed limit is set at 80km/h, you will have everyone driving up to that speed instead of having one car at 80km/h and another speeding all the way to 100km/h.”

Peter James, 30, Indian
“I think this is a great step forward taken by the Abu Dhabi Police and I look forward to seeing it implemented across the UAE. It’s easy to justify the thrill of driving at dangerous speeds because of the allowance of 20km/h over the limit. It’s good to know that now this grace limit cannot be used as an excuse to drive rashly. I hope this new rule in addition to the awareness campaigns that will be organised by the police will be instrumental in reducing the number of accidents that are caused as a result of speeding.”

Mughis Ahmad, 54, Pakistani
“I strongly feel that it is a very good move by the authorities. It will dramatically reduce road fatalities and improve driving behaviour. It will also help curb tailgating and bullying.

Yes, it should be implemented across the country. In Dubai, the reduction of speed limit from 120km/h to 110km/h on E311 (Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road) has significantly reduced accidents. Moreover, strict monitoring of bad driving by commercial vehicles (buses, trucks, pickups and vans) must also be done.”

Mohammad Razaul Karim, Bangladeshi
“Yes, I firmly believe removing the grace speed limit is a good idea. While this move will definitely ensure added safety on the roads, I think the greater benefit will be to instill more discipline in drivers. Therefore, I am in favour of enacting this law in the whole of UAE. It is important to keep in mind the safety of everyone in the country, not only of those who travel between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.”

Explaining the new limits

■ From August 12, motorists in Abu Dhabi will no longer be able to avail any grace on speed limits, as Abu Dhabi Police will abolish the speed buffer (typically 20km/h) from all highways and internal roads.

■ However, there will be no change to the maximum speed at which motorists can drive on these roads – since the actual speed limits of the roads will be revised to include the grace limit.

■ For example, an internal road that currently has a speed sign of 60km/h will be amended to 80km/h, and highways with speed limits of 120km/h will be amended to 140km/h.

■ Drivers who go over these new speed limits will be fined for speeding without allowing for any grace.

■ Abu Dhabi Police is installing new speed limit signs across all roads over the next few weeks, prior to abolishing the grace.

— With inputs from Rosieanne Sham, Intern with Gulf News