Tinted-glass cars in war on speedsters in Abu Dhabi
Jassim Hariri of Syria was driving towards his mobile phone shop in Abu Dhabi in the early hours of the morning when he was stopped by a car with tainted glass tailing him for a while. When he saw the car flashing its upper red light, he immediately realised it was the traffic police chasing him for speeding.
Hariri was not a reckless driver, but he had exceeded the speed limit on that road when he was chased by the ominous black-glass Toyota Camry.
“The speed limit on that road is 80kmph and I was driving only at 85kmph.
"They stopped me and told me I was speeding.
"When I started to argue, they showed me how fast I was driving on their small speed camera fixed inside their car,” he said.
“I then admitted that I was exceeding the speed limit, but only slightly.
"Their answer was that even if I was going at 81kmph, I will be fined. They then gave me a ticket.”
Abu Dhabi Traffic Police have decided to deploy cars with tinted glass as part of a war against speedsters in the emirate after a series of measures failed to deter reckless drivers. The measures included the installation of more speed cameras, harsher penalties, awareness campaigns and deployment of more police patrols.
As is the case with the red and white police cars, vehicles with tainted glass are now feared by speeding motorists, but they would not know whether it is a camouflaged traffic police car before it flashes the upper red light at offenders.
Such vehicles are normally manned by two traffic cops, including the driver and the one who operates the speeding camera, which is mounted on a tripod near the windshield.
All such vehicles have tainted glass apparently to conceal the cops and the speeding camera, which is directly linked to the main computer at the traffic police department.
“Many of those caught speeding apologise and say they will not do it again so we cancel the fine,” said a policeman in one of the cars.
“We cannot do this because once the camera flashes at a speeding car, the offence is directly registered in the main computer at the department.
"Many drivers just do not want to believe or understand this but they are ready to break the rules.”
Black-glass police cars have no specific place to stay as they roam through the streets to hunt for speedsters and ensure discipline. Police sources said hundreds of speedsters are caught every day as they are not aware of being tailed by police.
Police records show speeding has remained the main cause of accidents in Abu Dhabi and other UAE emirates despite intensified campaigns to ensure discipline on roads.
Other key causes include reckless driving, lack of concentration, negligence, jumping the red lights and failure to respect other traffic rules.
According to an official study, the UAE and other Gulf oil producers are among the countries having the highest traffic accidents in the world relative to their population.
Abu Dhabi police statistics showed 1,861 serious accidents killed 267 people in the emirate in 2014 and that more than a third of them were caused by speeding.
In all UAE emirates, 712 people were killed in road mishaps last year while more than two million traffic offences were committed.
Despite the high death rate, authorities believe the campaign to ensure discipline on roads is paying off, with the deaths on roads dropping to 6.5 per 100,000 in 2014 from 13 per 100,000 a decade ago, according to the interior ministry.
“The UAE aims to become one of the countries having the safest roads in the next five years after it managed to make substantial achievements in this regard,” the ministry’s undersecretary Lt General Saif Al Shaafar said.
The figures showed the road death rate in the UAE has been cut despite a steady rise in the number of vehicles over the past years to reach around 2.94 million at the end of 2014 compared with 2.67 million at the end of 2013.
In an article published by the Arabic language daily Al Khaleej, a UAE writer urged authorities to raise the maximum age required to obtain driving licence and to introduce harsher penalties to curb traffic accidents.
“Many drivers, mainly young men, simply do not care for their lives and the lives of other road users,” Abdullah Suwaiji said.
“Despite intensified police patrols, deployment of more speed cameras and the launching of awareness campaigns, massive traffic offences persisted, we believe that a solution now is in the hands off the authorities.
"It is time that they raise the maximum age required to obtain a driving licence.
They should also seize the driving licence of serious offenders for years and impose heavier fines on deliberate violators.”
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