RTA suggests limits on driving hours for Dubai truckers

The Road and Transport Authority (RTA) has suggested to develop legislations that determine the maximum number of driving hours for heavy vehicle drivers that are allowed to drive trucks with a load of 3.5 tons, said Maitha bin Adai in a statement to Emirates 24/7.

The suggestion has been made by the RTA to curb accidents involving heavy vehicles and increase overall safety on the road.

Currently, there is no limit on the number of hours truck drivers are permitted to drive consecutively by law. In the Truck and Bus Guidebook, the RTA recommends never driving more than 10 hours in any 24-hour period.

In practice, these recommendations are not always followed. “In general our drivers do 10 hour shift, but it does happen that these shifts become longer,” admits Mohammad Kashif, manager of Sardar Transport.

With no restrictions on the number of hours a driver may work, it is up to the driver himself, he explains. “Some drivers are OK working longer shifts. The younger drivers in the age-group 24-30 years old are more comfortable doing long shifts, whereas drivers above the age of 36 prefer 8-hour shifts, because physical limitations may appear,” the Pakistani manager explained.

While one shift could last from 7AM to 9PM, it is also possible for drivers to carry out double shifts. “Sometimes they work in the morning and in the evening again. If they want to do so, they can,” said Mohammad.

“In any case we are bound to the working hours of the boat that we transport to. Sometimes it is logistically not possible to limit the shift to a certain number of hours, because the boat must be reached on time.”

Yaser, who works at the Human Resource Department of the transportation company Batais narrates a similar work ethic. “If the driver wants, he can take a long shift,” he says.

Although regular shifts at his company last about 15 hours, a driver could leave at any time and add any number of jobs to his duty. “That is really up to the driver,” he claims.

Driving double shifts or making as many shifts possible becomes more attractive with the earning of a commission, which is granted in many transportation companies.

“In our company drivers get a commission per trip. For every trip they get Dh25 in commission. If they do a double shift they will get Dh50,” explained Yaser.

A law curtailing the maximum number of hours of truck drivers would not be unnecessary, agrees Mohammad. “It would be the ideal situation,” he said. “But I do not know if it would be practical.”

The RTA has suggested a number of measures to improve safety on the road and recently framed truck and bus drivers as the most dangerous category amongst road users, as traffic accidents involving heavy vehicles often result in considerable number of causalities.

“Short breaks keep you alert. Take them before you become tired,” advises the RTA.

In order to enable truck and heavy vehicle drivers taking short breaks in their journeys a total of 18 lay-bys are planned to be built over the next three years along the two main highways i.e.Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (E311) and Emirates Road (E611).

“Each year 6 lay-bys will be built starting from 2014. One of these lay-bys is already built and opened for heavy vehicles. This lay-by is located along Emirates Road (E611) for northbound traffic (i.e. traffic destined to Al Sharjah) before Exit to Al In Road. Subsequently by the end of the 2014 additional 5 will be built followed by 6 each year until 2016,” said Maitha.

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