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UAE traffic law
The UAE’s amended federal traffic law came into effect on 1 July 2017. The new regulations aim to further protect the lives of road users and reduce traffic casualties from about 6 per 100,000 people to 3 per 100,000 as per Vision 2021.
Ministerial Resolution No. 177 of 2017 regarding issuing and renewing a driver’s licence
The resolution sets stipulations for issuing and renewing drivers’ licences as the following:
For those who are 21 years of age and above
- Initially, the driver’s licence is valid for 2 years for citizens, GCC nationals and other nationalities
- After renewal, the driver’s licence is valid for 10 years for citizens and GCC nationals and for 5 years for other nationalities.
For those below 21 years of age
- Initially, the driver’s licence is valid for one year for citizens, GCC nationals and other nationalities.
Ministerial Resolution No. 178 of 2017 regarding traffic control rules
The resolution covers many safety and control aspects. Some of them are:
Mandatory seat belts for all
- All passengers in a car are required to wear seat belts including those sitting in the rear seat, failing which the driver of the vehicle will be fined AED 400 and slapped with four black points.
- Children up to four years of age must be provided with a child safety seat. Violators will be fined AED 400 and slapped with four black points.
- The front seat passenger should also be at least 145 cm tall and not younger than 10 years old.
- Reckless driving will incur a fine of AED 2,000, 23 black points and impounding of the vehicle for a period of 60 days.
- The same punishment and fine will apply to drivers who endanger the lives of others.
- Other violations cover: blocking traffic, jumping red signals, sudden swerving and driving without a number plate.
Driving under the influence
Drivers caught under the influence of drugs and or alcohol will have their licence suspended for one year, starting from the day of the verdict. Court will decide the fine and/or jail term.
Motorcycle riders and motorists who ignore traffic lights will be fined AED 1, 000 and incur a penalty of 12 points and their vehicles will be seized for a month.
Using phones while driving or any other distractions will be attract AED 400 fine and four black points.
- throwing garbage
- not leaving safe distance between vehicles
- overtaking on the hard shoulder
- crowding around accident sites
- using quad-bike on road
- violating technical and safety issues
- failing to fasten seat belts
- using expired tires
- driving without insurance/car registration
- driving noisy vehicle
- transporting passengers illegally.
Those exceeding the speed limit by 80 kmph will be fined AED 3,000, slapped with 23 black points and have their car impounded for 60 days.
Find list of traffic offences and violations (PDF, 300 KB).
Road safety initiatives
In an attempt to prevent road accidents and reduce its impact on lives and properties, different government entities in the UAE have launched initiatives and awareness campaigns to lessen the impact of traffic fatalities. Some of these initiatives are:
Abu Dhabi strategic traffic safety plan
The Traffic and Patrols Directorate in Abu Dhabi has launched a road safety management plan, which aims at decreasing traffic accidents' fatalities to 3 per cent per 100,000 inhabitants by 2021. Measures to improve road safety encompass the framework frequently applied in accident prevention work, which contains four elements:
- emergency medical services.
Also read about Surface Transport Master Plan in Abu Dhabi (PDF, 200KB).
Road safety audit
DoT of Abu Dhabi introduced a road safety audit (PDF, 150 KB) to be completed for all new highway projects; this audit would cover the phases of design, construction and post-construction. The purpose of the audit is to identify road safety problems and to suggest measures to eliminate or mitigate any concerns.
Road safety awareness
Road safety awareness was a programme launched by DOT of Abu Dhabi, which focuses on drivers, riders and pedestrians. The programme targets educating children and adolescents as future road users and drivers.
Central traffic control system 'SCOOT'
'SCOOT' is a central traffic control system installed with sensors counting the volume of vehicles at signals to improve traffic flow at main junctions. The sensors will detect the flow, the number of cars on each approach and the cruise speed or the average speed towards a traffic signal. This new adaptive traffic control system is used in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Speed management strategy of the emirate of Abu Dhabi
DoT of Abu Dhabi launched the speed management strategy of the emirate of Abu Dhabi with the objectives of:
- reducing road crash fatalities and injuries in the emirate of Abu Dhabi
- facilitating the safe and efficient movement of people whilst protecting and enhancing quality of life.
The strategy covers six major components:
- assessing the speeding problem
- education and awareness
- stakeholder coordination.
RTA Dubai strategic plan 2014-2018
RTA launched its strategic plan 2014-2018 (PDF, 100 KB) to act as a major support to the overall development drive in the UAE and the emirate of Dubai, as well as being a driving force to improve performance that contributes to serving the country, its citizens and residents.
The strategy has eight goals:
- Smart Dubai
- Integrated Dubai
- People's happiness
- Smooth transport for all
- Safety and environmental sustainability
- Financial sustainability
- Advanced RTA
- Assets Sustainability
Dubai traffic safety strategy
Dubai traffic safety strategy is set to establish a challenging record of reducing fatalities to 1.5 for every 100,000 of the population in Dubai by 2021.
The strategy is based on four agendas:
- improving motorists' driving habits
- inspecting vehicles for traffic safety regulations and for criminal safety procedures
- inspecting motorists' records
- traffic awareness campaigns.
In 2008, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) launched a major safety campaign that will go for life under the slogan Haseb (take care in Arabic). The campaign highlights safety issues on roads, in transportation, at construction sites, at sea and other safety behaviours.
Based on accident statistics of 2007, the campaign recognises seven key causes of road accidents, which include excessive speeding, use of handheld mobile phones, fatigue, not keeping enough distances between vehicles, not wearing seatbelts, lack of lane discipline and jumping red signals.
Useful links for road and traffic safety:
The ‘White Points’ system
In 2012, Dubai Police introduced the ‘White Points’ system to motivate those driving cars to abide by traffic laws and regulations. Under the White Points system, people with a driving licence issued by the Dubai Government will be rewarded if they do not:
- commit any traffic violations in Dubai or other emirates
- incur Salik and parking fines
- face traffic prosecution cases for an entire year.
White points are accumulated at the end of the year, at the rate of two points per month. Eligible drivers would gather 24 points in one calendar year.
White points entitles the driver to one of the following rewards, once, during one calendar year:
- exchanging traffic white points with traffic black points for a maximum of 12 points
- cancelling the impoundment of the vehicle for a period of 30 days maximum
- cancelling a traffic violation that is clear of black points or impoundment period
- cancelling the payment for the extra impoundment period for 30 days maximum.
Read more on Dubai’s White Points system.
Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) in cooperation with Abu Dhabi and Dubai Police launched an eCall system for automatic call in the event of traffic accidents.
In the event of a collision, the eCall system automatically establishes a two-way voice communication via the cellular network to the nearest emergency centre. The emergency centre will dispatch a medical team to the location of the accident as soon as possible.
This system will accelerate the accident response time by providing a sophisticated feature for rapid communication with the emergency teams, which allows automatic and voice information to be received and logged into the system simultaneously rather than printing commands in a conventional manner.
In the UAE, road injuries are one of the leading causes of death for children. Two out of every three fatally injured children die due to road traffic crashes.
The Executive Regulations of Federal Law No. 9 for the year 2011 concerning Land Transport states that land transport activity may not be practised before obtaining a licence from the respective authority.
Traffic police and road and transport authorities across the UAE play a major role in ensuring safety and traffic regulations and use smart technology to minimise traffic violations.
The UAE applies Federal Traffic Law No. 21 of 1995, as amended by Federal Law No. 12 of 2007 and the related executive regulations and ministerial resolutions in all aspects concerning traffic controls and violations in UAE.
It is mandatory to adhere to the speed limits set on highways, internal streets, and residential areas.
The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy in place regarding driving under the influence of alcohol. This act is punishable by law.
Talking on cell phone while driving is prohibited, as it may distract the driver and lead to serious accidents.
RTA recommends that drivers check their car tires pressure every couple of weeks to avoid potential harm.
The UAE has a system of black points leading to confiscation of the driver's licence is in force to ensure adherence to traffic laws.
The system is based on a number of fixed points. The driver who violates traffic rules gets black points according to a specified schedule. The number of black points corresponds with the seriousness of the violation and it is counted from the date of violation.
For more information, refer to the Black points' law.
Deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents
The latest data available on the UAE’s data portal Bayanat.ae shows that traffic accidents in 2016 caused 725 deaths and 6,681 causalities. As per the National Agenda 2021, the UAE’s Ministry of Interior and local traffic departments are working to reduce the rate of road traffic death per 100 thousand people.
In 2017, the number of deaths caused due to road accidents decreased to 525. In 2018, the rate of road traffic death decreased to 3.83 per 100 thousand people. The Traffic and Patrols Directorate in Abu Dhabi launched a road safety management plan, which aims at decreasing fatalities from traffic accidents to 3 per 100,000 inhabitants by 2021.
Deaths and injuries from traffic accidents
2012 – 2016
Updated on 18 Nov 2022