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Perils of car breakdowns in Dubai: Seven dead in six days

Seven people have died in Dubai over last six days in accidents caused by cars parked in middle of highway

  • By Janice Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 17:40 August 7, 2013
  • Gulf News

Dubai: As residents prepare for long drives to visit family and friends or head out to resorts in other emirates during the Eid holidays, authorities and experts said residents should ensure their cars are in proper condition to avoid any road mishaps and accidents.

Seven people have died in Dubai over the last six days in road accidents caused by cars parked in the middle of the highway due to car trouble, according to Senior Chief Prosecutor Salah Bu Farousha, Head of Dubai Traffic Public Prosecution.

Four people sustained critical-to-moderate injuries on Tuesday when their minibus crashed into a truck that had been parked on the fourth lane of Al Khail Road, after it was involved in a minor traffic accident.

On Thursday night, four people, including a nine-month-old infant, died when their car rammed into a car parked in the third lane of Shaikh Zayed Road due to a tyre breakdown. Both cases are under police investigation.

While it might appear to be common sense not to park your car in the middle of the highway or near the fast lane, experts say some drivers tend to panic and make wrong decisions that lead to injuries and worse, death.

In September last year, a driver died after his body was cut in half in a traffic accident along Mohammad Bin Zayed Road. Police said the driver parked his car on the left side of the road to fix a flat tyre and did not see the oncoming vehicle on the fast lane. The man died on the spot in full view of his wife and daughter.

Getting proper and regular car maintenance ideally gives a driver peace of mind on the road. But should anything go wrong, paying attention to one’s car’s gauges when driving is key to prevent any breakdowns or accidents.

“When there’s something wrong in a car, the gauges will flash to indicate the problem to give people time to act on it. But some people normally ignore this and drive on until they reach their destination,” Alex Alexander, who owns a car repair shop in Dubai, told Gulf News.

Rizwan Rehmad Ali, who has been working with cars for two decades, told Gulf News it is very rare for a moving car to suddenly stop in the middle of the road due to engine failure. Hence all cars that break down — either due to a mechanical failure or a tyre problem — should be driven to the hard shoulder at all costs for road users’ safety.

What to do in case of car trouble

Gulf News consulted experts to identify common car problems and drivers’ mistakes on the road and how they should be handled.

Mistake 1: Parking in the middle of the road due to engine failure as drivers think they can’t move the car to the hard shoulder.

Solution: “Any car can be pushed by anyone to the hard shoulder if you put it in the neutral gear,” Rizwan Rehmad Ali, workshop manager of Salim Ali Bin Haider Garage, told Gulf News, adding that the driver should properly alert other road users of his intention.

Mistake 2: Applying hard brakes when your tyre bursts as drivers think the car might flip over.

Solution: “People have to understand that if their car’s tyre bursts, there is no need to apply brakes as the car will automatically slow down on its own. They should handle the steering wheel with both hands and should not force the car to go on one position but they should let the car slip slowly to the shoulder,” Ali said.

Mistake 3: Standing in front of your broken down car that’s parked on the shoulder while waiting for help.

Solution: Ali said some reckless drivers sometimes drive on the hard shoulder when they want to overtake other cars. “If you’re standing in front of your car, you could get hit. You’re gonna be the very first victim of your own car. Human life much more important than your vehicle, so stay off the road.”

In their “For How Long…?” road safety campaign last year, the Roads and Transport Authority said broken down cars should be removed from the shoulder in the shortest possible time. Those who drive on the road shoulder will incur six black points and a fine of Dh600.

Mistake 4: Putting the emergency reflective triangles too close.

Solution: Place warning device 20 metres away from car’s rear. 

Comments (13)

  1. Added 16:48 August 8, 2013

    During Driving license training ,there should be a lesson or topic for this type of problem how to handle.

    Mirza, Abudhabi, India

  2. Added 16:15 August 8, 2013

    Most of the people don't really know what to do in an accidents, authorities must raise a awareness campaigns through Electronic Billboards, Newspapers, Social Media, Youtube, Mobile Apps

    Ali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 14:45 August 8, 2013

    The red emergency triangle has to be a helium filled baloon which can be raised from inside the vehicle itself. It can fit with a light to be visible at night also. This will alert other vehicles from a distance so that they can slow down.

    santy, abudhabi, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 14:03 August 8, 2013

    Good info...RTA should make a manual and make it mandatory for all car owners to keep it with them in their car at all times...

    Stan, sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 13:36 August 8, 2013

    Guess most reckless drivers don't bother to read articles like this.

    Ryan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 13:12 August 8, 2013

    I strongly agree with one of the readers' comments about imposing higher traffic fines. The fine has to be increased to 1000 DH minimum for any traffic violation and the drivers must be notified warning messages for such a breach of law. People fear losing money more than losing their lives and that of their precious ones.

    Faiza, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 12:53 August 8, 2013

    Quite frequently, one comes across drivers driving vehicles with head lights switched off even after twilight--this impairs visibility of such vehicles following the vehicle ahead. This is even more dangerous when such drivers are on the main arterial roads, SZR, Sh Mohd bin Zayed Road, Al Khail Road. This needs to be checked, and hefty fines imposed. About two months ago, one of my neighbors was driving around without the headlights on even at 10:00pm. But, a traffic police patrol, duly stopped the driver by following him, and took him aside, for the safety of others, and the driver himself.

    Rajagopalan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 11:20 August 8, 2013

    I have living in Abu Dhabi for more than 14 years. I have witnessed drastic change in our civic sense. I remember the time when the traffic used stop completely until pedestrians used to cross the road. Now pedestrians surprise if a driver stops the car to give way to the them !

    Aadil, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 11:11 August 8, 2013

    Now a days it has been a fashion to ride with the headlights on even on a bright sunny noon , it can cause panic to others. Some people think that they are best drivers. Think little more sensibly, any thing can happen any time, that's why it is called accident. Please care for others while driving also. Authorities should be strict and vigil on these issues.

    Shibu, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 11:03 August 8, 2013

    Most people drive like lunatics, because they need to reach everywhere 2 minutes early!! Children are not in seat belts, most are playing around, even outside windows, it is scary! Because most drivers do not care for laws like seat belts, driving within speed limits, no brash overtaking etc. Just like visa renewals, driving licences for people should be renewed every 3 years or even less, not to make money (charges may be kept at minimal), but to ensure they keep driving slowly and follow the road signs and speed limits and UNDERSTAND what they are being taught. Any vehicle that drives more than 15k or 20k kms per month, should be checked every 6 months so tyres do not blow out like they do in the summers. Many high end cars also drive at ridiculous speeds on Shk Zayed Road. For anyone caught driving at high speeds more than 3 or 4 times a month, with no exceptions, anywhere in the city, should be asked to attend a mandatory full day class for 6 hours showing them hospitals, accidents, safety code etc just like they do in US and Canada during lessons. Why people drive in Dubai without headlights on, in the nights, is totally beyond me! Why doesnt the police catch and fine them 10,000 dirhams or maybe 100,000 dirhams? That will get their attention to turn that switch which they even paid for! A 1 month or even 1 week police enforcement drive will net millions and reduce accidents and should be done every year regularly. Prevention is ALWAYS better than a cure! Teach everyone the benefits of driving slowly and not tailgating, which is so popular in UAE that it could have a world record. Most accidents are caused by males as well as females between the ages of 20-39. We could certainly train them better. Finally, why people drive without indicators on each move on the road, which they are taught during driving lessons and also they paid for it, is once again beyond me. The police must give hefty fines and just a 1 month blitz will ensure that people show indicators while turning. Police and Govt need to ensure that roads are free and open and have 2 lanes in most places. Spending millions can save dozens of lives. Because people overtake more where the turn is single lane and traffic is heavy. Prevention indeed is better than a cure! Please everyone, let's drive safe during Eid.

    Anonymous, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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