The UAE has recently set at 65 tonnes the maximum permissible weight of heavy vehicles that can ply along national roads. The new federal law, announced on September 4, will take effect starting October 1.
How many heavy vehicles will be affected by this new law? Will there be a grace period for trucking companies to adjust to the new rule? What are the administrative penalties? What will be achieved with this latest road regulation?
What are covered by the new rule?
According to general guidelines, vehicles weighing more than 2.5 tonnes (when empty) are considered heavy-duty. These include commercial automobiles used to transport goods or passengers, prime movers, semi-trailers, trailer combinations and articulated trucks.
As per the estimate by Minister of Energy and Infrastructure (MoEI), 200,00 heavy vehicles, including border-crossing trucks are covered by the new federal law. Exempted are heavy vehicles owned by security, military, police and civil defence authorities.
The ministry noted 28 per cent of current truckloads across the country exceed 65 tonnes.
What is the new road regulation?
The amendment – setting the permissible maximum weight of heavy vehicles at 65 tonnes – was recently approved by the UAE Cabinet, led by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The new federal law, announced on September 4, will take effect starting October 1 this year. However, heavy vehicle owners and companies will have a four-month grace period to adapt to the new law before administrative penalties will be enforced beginning February 1, 2024. The four-month grace period from October 2023 to February 2024 will be used to raise awareness of the law among transport companies.
What is the primary objective of the new law?
At a press briefing on September 13, Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, underscored the law is aimed at improving the infrastructure, transport and logistics sectors in the UAE. It will also boost the national economy and support the government's efforts to ensure the country's infrastructure is one of the world's safest and most technologically advanced.
The latest regulation is expected to reduce road fatality rate by 50 per cent per 100,000 people. Raising the level of road safety is a priority for the UAE, given that studies indicate that deaths by truck crashes amount to 62 per cent. Moreover, the new law will cut down the annual road maintenance cost by Dh200 million and will reduce carbon emissions by five billion kgs by 2032. There will also be a 50 per cent increase in the lifespan of paved roadways.
What are the penalties for exceeding the allowed weight?
No specific details yet were announced regarding penalties. During the four-month grace period, however, the UAE cabinet will issue a decision specifying the permissible maximum total and axle weights, charts of dimensions, a list of violations and administrative penalties, Al Mazrouei added.
The full implementation of the law with corresponding penalties for violators will come into effect by February 1, 2024. Furthermore, an evaluation of the law's impact during its first year of implementation will be carried out by December 2024.
How will the government monitor the trucks?
A total of 24 smart gates will be installed by the end of 2024 to measure the weight and dimension of heavy vehicles on UAE national roads. These e-gates will have high-resolution monitoring cameras (with proven 98% accuracy), 3D laser scanners and electronic sensors.
Can each emirate have flexibility in implementing the new rule?
Answering a question raised by Khaleej Times, Al Mazrouei clarified that each emirate can put some restrictions depending on specific road conditions and what each local authority deems necessary.
A case in point is the regulation put in place by the Integrated Transport Centre (ITC) Abu Dhabi along Tahnoun bin Mohammed Road (Dubai - Al Ain E66), where the permitted weight for heavy vehicles is set at 45 tonnes. The ITC announced in March this year that trucks will be fined for non-compliance with the Freight Transport Regulation in Abu Dhabi while crossing smart gates.
"There is flexibility in each emirate," Al Mazrouei told Khaleej Times, adding aside from the federal limit, each emirate can put restrictions as per their requirements, with the safety of all road users, including truck drivers, other motorists and pedestrians as the main guiding principle. Each emirate or authority can set the limit below 65 tonnes and not more than that."
What does road safety experts say?
Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, praised the introduction of the new federal law. He said: "One of the four E's in road safety stands for engineering (enforcement, education and evaluation are the other Es). This means a safe road infrastructure since the weight of vehicles plays an important role in the wear and tear of the road infrastructure.
"The UAE is regarded as having one of the safest and best road infrastructures in the world. To maintain this infrastructure, both from a technical and a financial standpoint, it is important to keep the infrastructure in good working condition as long as possible. Less maintenance means cost benefits and available budgets can be used further to increase the quality and number of other infrastructure projects. Hence, from a road safety perspective, it is desirable to have the best road infrastructure possible, and as a consequence, we appreciate the move to a lower-weight regime in the UAE," he added.
What happened in the past?
The heavier the vehicle, the more work the brakes must do to stop it. Here are some road fatalities and injuries involving trucks.
> August 11, 2023 – Two men died, and two others were severely injured in a horrific accident involving a pickup and a truck on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road in Dubai.
> January 25, 2023 – A driver was seriously injured after a truck flipped on Yabsa Street in Sakamkam, Fujairah
> October 27, 2022 - One driver died, and five others were injured in a multi-vehicle accident caused by tailgating, involving two trucks and four other vehicles on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road.
Some facts and figures to ponder
28% of current truck loads in the UAE exceed 65 tonnes
Dh22 billion worth of investments in UAE roads
Dh200 million cost of annual UAE road maintenance
50% expected increase in the lifespan of paved roadways with the introduction of the new regulation for heavy vehicles
Copyright © 2022 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).