UAE - To improve road safety, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is studying the feasibility of amending the minimum required age for applicants of heavy motor vehicle (HMV) drivers from 20 to 21 years old, a senior RTA official discussed at the first Truck Trailer Safety Conference in Dubai.
"All new HMV licence applicants must also go through articulated vehicle training and another important revision is requiring prospective truck and trailer drivers to get an LMV (light motor vehicle) licence before they can apply for an HMV driving licence, Arif Abdulkarim Almalik, RTA director of drivers training and qualifications, said at the conference organised on Thursday by Wabco Vehicle Control Systems and supported by the Dubai Police and RoadSafetyUAE.
"At present, applicants are allowed to get an HMV licence if they are 20 years old and they can apply directly even without an LMV licence. Under our new proposal, an applicant must be at least 21 years old and must hold a valid LMV licence," Almalik explained to Khaleej Times.
"The heavy vehicles they will be driving during the training are also designed to carry goods of more than 3,500kg from the previous 2,500kg," he added.
At the conference, multi-sectoral stakeholders discussed the importance of education and technology to improve road safety. They said that "truck accidents are caused mainly by trailer issues like trailers tipping in curves due to driver errors, trailer tyre bursts, faulty trailer braking systems and poorly maintained, old or technically unfit truck trailers".
Capt Salem Mesfer Rashid Alamimi of the Dubai Police said 73 serious accidents involving trucks were recorded in 2017 as against 99 in 2016, resulting in 14 fatalities (36 in 2016) and 109 injuries (187 in 2016).
He noted that while the 2017 trends are very positive, truck and truck trailer safety issues remain an area of focus particularly in the light of Dubai's target of zero casualties per 100,000 residents by 2020 (the UAE federal target is three per 100,000 national population by 2021).
Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of RoadSafetyUAE, added: "We wanted to create a new platform for the important topic of truck trailer safety. We have to create a common understanding of the burning issues of truck trailer safety and how we can overcome these."
Edelmann noted that one of the important aspects to boost road safety is introducing a law mandating the maximum driving hours per day for truck and trailer drivers. "Fatigue is a huge factor in road accidents and if there's a law on how long an HMV driver can stay on the road, then at least fatigue will be reduced," he explained.
A whole road safety eco-system is required, including clear-cut policies from fleet operators, education of drivers, up-to-date regulatory framework, and adaption to new technology, Edelmann added.
Meanwhile, Sherif El-Sheikh, Wabco MENA regional leader, said: "As a leading global technology company, we are committed to advance vehicle and driver safety to reduce the number of accidents involving commercial vehicles. We offer (our) range of technology solutions to improve truck and trailer safety and, by joining RoadSafetyUAE's platform, we are proud to underline our commitment to helping improve road safety and supporting the 'UAE Vision 2021'."
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