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Thu 9 Oct 2014 12:36 PM

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Tram trepidation

Motorists have already had accidents and Dubai's newest transport network isn't even open yet

Tram trepidation

When it eventually opens in November, the Dubai Tram will undoubtedly be a welcome addition to the public transport network in the city, and of immense benefit for those who live and work in its vicinity.

While the barricades and roadworks have finally cleared, when the tram eventually opens road users could face further delays if experience is anything to go by.

Testing has been taking place throughout this year, and recently the trams began to use the open intersections. And already, there has been an accident.

In the incident, reported in Gulf News, the driver jumped a red light (one of the primary reasons that accidents occur) and collided with the tram. The other reason that accidents with trams occur is awareness, or lack of – knowing where the tram is or where it’s coming from.

But in a city where accidents are all-too-common, collisions with trams might become an unavoidable eventuality.

When Dublin launched its new tram system – called Luas – the obvious benefit was the convenience and the reduction of road users, but obvious downside was the amount of accidents. Generally, the issue was about people getting used to having a train system using the same space that had previously been vehicle only.

The tram will have the right of way on the road, and traffic lights will turn red across all junctions when a tram is passing.

New road signs will be erected along the 10.6km route, from Dubai Marina to Sufouh, while the road space shared with vehicles and cyclists should be fenced for most of the way. The only area where accidents could realistically take place is at the intersections, and these areas will be clearly indicated, with rules of the road coming into force.

And so, it comes down to education, and making people aware of those rules. The major difference between here and Dublin is the level of fines that await any transgression.

Penalties of up to AED30,000 will be handed to drivers who cause an accident that leads to the death of one or more people, with the fine being no less than AED10,000.

The regulations, which aim to encourage high safety standards, also says the driver will be banned for at least 30 days and up to one year for the offence.

Crossing a red traffic light at the tramway intersection and causing a non-fatal accident will carry a fine of between AED5,000-15,000 and a ban of up to six months,

Crossing a red traffic light without causing an accident will be punishable with a fine of AED2,000-5,000 and a ban of up to three months.

The RTA will be able to provide video footage to the Dubai Public Prosecution of any accident on the Dubai Tram.

If the safety messages don’t reach the drivers, the punitive message will surely hit home fairly quickly.

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