Abu Dhabi Weather

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Speed Limit

In recent news, Abu Dhabi has decided to raise the speed limits in order "to make roads safer." (To read a more detailed article about it, click here.) While this may seem to be a contradiction in terms, I actually understand the logic. To follow, you have to have a little background information on the driving situation in Abu Dhabi.

To begin, almost every road in Abu Dhabi has a speed limit of 60 kilometers per hour (37.5 miles per hour). Some are pretty wide and it is silly to expect people to drive that slowly on main thoroughfares. Don't worry. No one actually drives that speed, because it has become common knowledge that the speed cameras that monitor speeding are set to snap a picture of your license plate and give you a fine at 20 kph over the speed limit. That means that people all drive 80 kph (50 mph). I go as far as to set the cruise control on my car at 79 kph just to be safe.

All would be fine if that was everything to it. You see, there are also people who just don't care if they get tickets. They know that their cousin or childhood friend or whoever works in the police department will take care of their ticket for them. The rest of us have to wait until we go in to register our cars each year to find out how many tickets we have and pay them before registering our vehicles. The cost is 800 dirhams ($220) per ticket but in most cases, they halve the fines.

Furthermore, the locations of the cameras are also common knowledge. If there are no cameras around, some people tend to go as fast as traffic will allow. They zig-zag through the lanes, riding on the bumpers of cars who can't go any faster due to the other cars directly in front of them.

Due to the differential between people who don't want fines and the others who are in a special hurry, the government will raise the speed limit. For example, this photo taken on the road I drive down on my way to and from work each day (30th Street, Al Khaleej Al Arabi St, or Old Airport Road; all the same road, but three of the names this thoroughfare goes by ) shows the new about-to-be-revealed signs covered in blue plastic. You can't really see from the photo, but the new speed limit will be 80 kph. With the 20 kph added to allow for speed cameras, that means the new speed limit will in essence be 100 kph (62.5 kph). Let's see if this a) gets me to work any faster or b) keeps me safer.

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