Month: March 2008

Abu Dhabi taxis to be fitted with tracking system

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Photo by Ravindranath/Gulf News
Taxis with toll free number plying in Abu Dhabi. The Tracking and Dispatch system has been tested on about 70 new taxis.

Abu Dhabi taxis to be fitted with tracking system
By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter GULF NEWS Published: March 03, 2008, 12:11

Abu Dhabi: Residents will soon be able to pay taxi fares through credit cards, Trans AD, the Centre for Regulation of Transport by Hire cars in the capital, announced on Monday.

This is one of the features of the Tracking and Dispatch system which has been implemented in a sample of cars, said Khalid Saleh Al Rashedi, General Manager of Trans AD at a press briefing in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

“Apart from the credit card facility, we are planning to introduce prepaid smart cards which is being studied,” he said.

The Tracking and Dispatch system has been tested on about 70 new taxis in the capital now and it will be fully implemented by the end of June 2008. “We are trying hard to complete the implementation in four phases even before the stipulated time.” It will help the people to avoid waiting for taxis. They can just call up the call centre which can track the taxis available nearby and dispatch them to the passengers.”

The officials said taxis can be booked in advance or planned future trips. The nearest available taxi to the customer’s location will be automatically dispatched using the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite system. The system will inform the customer of the taxi number and the estimated time for arrival through the state-of -the-art Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS).

Taxis are fitted with an advanced mobile data terminal that displays fare details and progress from pick up point to destination on a map. Customers can monitor the progress and make sure that the taxi is taking an appropriate route from pick up point to drop -off point.

Transport: Fleet to be increased

Trans AD said the number of new taxis in the emirate will be increased to 1,500.

“More than 850 new taxis are on the streets now”, said an official. About 500 old taxis (Gold and White) have been phased out since January 2008. Compensation ATM cards have been given to old licensed taxi owners to receive monthly payment of Dh1,000.

Almost all 8,000 taxis have been given identification numbers to enable passengers to easily file complaints.

Khalid Al Rashedi, General Manager of Trans AD urged the public to report complaints at the call centre 600535353.

Big fall in night temperature predicted on Tuesday

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Big fall in night temperature predicted on Tuesday
By Aftab Kazmi, Bureau Chief GULF NEWS Published: March 03, 2008, 10:04

Al Ain: A significant fall in night temperature is expected on Tuesday in the country due to strong shamal winds, the met office has forecast.

The wind will begin blowing in the western areas by this afternoon kicking up dust.

“It will gradually reach rest of the areas [of the UAE] by evening,” according to the forecaster of the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS).

The strong winds would make the sea very rough with eight to 11 feet of waves offshore. Fishermen and small boat riders have been advised to stay away from the sea.

A Met official said day time conditions would, however, remain fair and rather hot in general, but would get cold by night.
Thick fog blanketed on Monday some coastal areas such as Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman. Reduced visibility forced drivers to be extra careful in their early morning drives.

Drunk drivers face court and Dh20,000 in fines

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Drunk drivers face court and Dh20,000 in fines By Alia Al Theeb and Rayeesa Absal, Staff Reporters GULF NEWS Published: March 02, 2008

Dubai/Abu Dhabi: Starting on Saturday, police across the UAE began implementing a federal traffic law which introduces harsher penalties for traffic violations.

Lieutenant General Shaikh Saif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior, said the new law and the black point system, which were recently endorsed by the UAE’s leadership, aim to curb accidents resulting from indisciplined driving and speeding.

Brigadier Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Director of Dubai Traffic Department, told Gulf News that the new law protects road users from motorists who violate rules and endanger lives of others.

He said the punishment for drunk driving stands revised at a Dh20,000 fine and possible jail term.

“Updating laws is normal and is also necessary so as to keep pace with the new developments in all domains for the sake of the nation’s higher interest,” Shaikh Saif was quoted as saying by WAM.

As per the new law, the black point system for traffic offences has been implemented across all the emirates aiming to cut down the number of deaths due to traffic accidents.

Last year alone, 1,056 people lost their lives in road accidents in the UAE.

As the law became effective all over the country, Dubai Police’s Traffic Department on Saturday also started implementing it in the emirate.

Dubai Police’s Traffic Department has intensified patrols and implemented strict penalties.

Brigadier Al Zafeinsaid motorists need special traffic education and called on motorists and family members who have more than one car or drivers to inform the drivers of the new law.

Fines can now be issued on the spot and in absentia.

Brigadier Al Zafein said the traffic department will send letters to the owners of offending vehicles, who will be given a month’s time to reveal the name of the person who was driving the vehicle when the offence was caused. If the owner fails to do so, the vehicle will be confiscated.

Motorists can object to the fines at the traffic department and an investigation will be launched.

The maximum number of black points a motorist can incur in a year is 24 at which point the licence is suspended. Once a person collects 24 black points, the licence will be suspended for three months.

If a motorist collects 24 points for the second time, the licence will be suspended for six months.

If it happens a third time, the licence will be taken away for a year and will not be returned until the driver passes a training course from an institute authorised by the traffic department.

The black points a person incurs will be cancelled the following year on the same date.

Senior Interior Ministry officials said if a motorist has collected many black points and feels that his licence could soon be taken away if he accumulates 24 points, then he can take a training course at an authorised driving institute. Police will then remove eight points. The option can be utilised only once a year.

Besides the black point system, another major change is that the minimum fine for serious traffic offences has been fixed at Dh20,000. Besides the fine, the penalty may or may not include a jail term.

Lieutenant Colonel Saif Al Mazroui, acting deputy director of Dubai Police Traffic Department, said the department organised lectures for traffic policemen on the new law.

On road: Charges hiked

Salah Bu Faroosha, Traffic Public Prosecutor, said the traffic public prosecution has changed the traffic charges according to the new federal law that came into effect on Saturday.

Bu Faroosha said the new punishment will be implemented for the offences that have been committed since it came into effect yesterday, while they will not be implemented on offences and accidents that took place before the changes came into effect.

He said the implication of the hard shoulder changed according to the new law, and it cannot be used on internal roads or highways, except in emergencies. Bu Faroosha said driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs now draws stricter punishment.

He said any motorist who drives under the influence of drugs, even with a doctor’s prescription, will be prosecuted in case of causing a road accident or damages to others.

Traffic law violators may face deportation

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Traffic law violators may face deportationBy Adel Arafah (Our staff reporter)KHALEEJ TIMES 2 March 2008

ABU DHABI — The Minister of Interior can order deportation of expatriate violators of the new federal traffic law and the black points system that came into effect yesterday, a senior official has clarified.

The deportation as a penalty for some cases of violation has been incorporated in the amended law on the instructions of Lt-Gen. Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior.

Lt-Gen Saif Abdullah Al Shafar, Under-Secretary of the ministry, said at a Press conference here, “Deportation is a penalty which the minister can enforce against rash motorists who pose a danger to public safety.

“Shaikh Saif is keen about the safety of the public. His order to deport truck drivers whose vehicles dropped rocks on the roads fell within this context. The minister can enforce this penalty when it deems necessary.”

Al Shafar was replying to a question raised by this reporter about the possible enforcement of deportation on frequent violators who drive dangerously and put the lives of road users at risk. The amended traffic law aimed to restrain the rash motorists and reduce traffic accidents.

Al Shafar said a motorist had to become a self watcher now. He/she must be eager not to commit any violation due to the newly fixed tough penalties, he said, adding the ministry had launched awareness campaigns in cooperation with the traffic departments nationwide to spread awareness about the new law and the black points system.

Meanwhile, Colonel Ghaith Al Za’abi, Director of the Department of Traffic, Ministry of Interior, detailed the mechanism of implementing the new traffic law and the black points system.

He said: “The e-link between all emirates of the country is our best instrument to put the new system in place.”

Under the e-system, he explained, the traffic police would register the offence and send it to the traffic department which would, in turn, transmit it through the e-visual sender to all traffic departments. An SMS would be sent to the offender notifying him/her about the type of the violation and the number of black points.

Engineer Mohammed Al Dali of the Abu Dhabi Municipality said, “I think the black points system will make motorists more compliant with the traffic rules. The matter goes beyond paying fines to registration of black points on the motorist’s traffic record.”