Dh1,200 fine for mobile phone use while driving

Drivers in Abu Dhabi could become more reluctant to answer a mobile phone call when authorities introduce a new tough law involving a fine of Dh1,200 and 12 black points for using the mobile handset while driving.

Traffic police said the car would also be impounded for 30 days under the new law that will classify talking on the mobile phone in the car as “driving a vehicle in a way that endangers the public.”

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“We will enforce this new penalty in the next few days,” said Brigadier Hussein Ahmed Al Harthi, director of the Abu Dhabi traffic police.

“The offence for driving in a way that endangers the public involves Dh1,000 while there will be a fine of Dh200 for using the mobile…this means motorists using the mobile while driving will be fined Dh1,200.”

Quoted by the Dubai-based Arabic language daily, Harthi said motorists using their mobile phones while driving pose a threat to all roadusers as this will detract their attention from the road and concentration on driving their vehicles.

“These penalties are already included in the federal traffic law in the UAE,” he said without making clear if the new penalty would be enforced in all emirates.

Abu Dhabi, the main oil producing emirate in the UAE, has already been locked in a campaign to cut road mishaps, involving fixed and mobile speed cameras, which had been planted only on a limited number of streets before those the latest video cameras are introduced all over the road network.

The campaign also includes heavier fines, increased police patrols, awareness drives and revision of speed limits on key roads.

Abu Dhabi has one of the highest traffic accident rates in the world because of persistent driving violations and the sharp rise in the number of cars. At the end of 2010, the city had nearly 468,000 vehicles including 398,000 privately owned cars, according to the emirate’s traffic police.

Road mishaps killed nearly 1,704 people in Abu Dhabi during 2005-2009 and more than 80 per cent of them were caused by human errors and violations.

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