Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Driving to Abu Dhabi yesterday was a new experience. I’ve not made the trip for several weeks, and it’s true that yesterday’s journey and this morning’s return did not involve the rush hour.

The new experience involved an almost unheard-of adherence to speed limits.

In the Bad Old Days, it was common knowledge that the 120kph posted speed limit could be flouted because the cameras were all set to flash at 160kph. Coupled with virtually non-existent police patrols, the result was tailgating at 159.9kph.

And then on 2nd April, there was a 127 vehicle traffic pile-up caused by people driving inappropriately in foggy conditions. Gulf News ran a story on 4th April suggesting that the reduced speed limit was as a direct consequence of the crash. Not so; the new 140kph signs were erected but covered in sack cloth back in March.

Putting aside for a moment the possible confusion that might come about because of enormous



signs in apparent contradiction with the 120kph signs, and also that 140kph, 120kph or even 60kph might be lethally excessive in fog, the Powers That Be have now decided that enforcement is the answer.

The practical legal maximum speed limit on the Abu Dhabi section of the Dubai - Abu Dhabi road is just a trace under 140kph; exactly the same as on the Dubai section, where the posted limit is 120kph and the cameras are set with a 20kph leeway.

Today, to my surprise, most of the traffic was bowling along at 130ish. Apart, that is, from one red Mercedes, the driver of which seemed to consider that speed limits only apply to other people. He went roaring past at probably 160kph, only to attract the immediate unwelcome, inconvenient and expensive attention of a large red and white car with blue lights on its roof that had been cruising in the right-hand lane. Time for a Muntz moment.

And there we have it. The fundamental means to keep traffic speeds to within limits is to tell everyone what those limits are and then to enforce them.

There were no visible police patrols on the journey back, but again everyone seemed to be staying below 140kph. Maybe the message is starting to sink in.


1 comment:

Neil Roberts said...

I agree it has been much better with the new limit - and I have noticed a much more visible police presence. Wasn't hard was it?!


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