Dubai: Motorists are misusing a no-U-turn junction as a shortcut near The Dubai Mall, putting others and themselves at risk of accidents.
Instead of turning left only, they make a U-turn at the busy traffic signal near Cinema Parking and The Address Downtown Dubai Hotel, to quickly exit from the area.
Some motorists make a U-turn even from the middle lane, placing themselves on a potential collision course with those in the far left lane turning left, on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Boulevard.
Pedestrians too are put in harm’s way, as cars illegally making a U-turn sometimes encounter pedestrians crossing the road.
Despite a no-U-turn sign there — as well as a sign advising motorists going to Dubai, Abu Dhabi or Sharjah to turn left — scores of motorists can be seen making the risky manoeuvre every day.
Even the presence of occasional police patrols fining violators has not acted as a deterrent.
The illegal U-turn is used as a short cut instead of going left, turning back around at a roundabout, and finally turning right onto the Boulevard.
Motorists can also go further down the road to turn back legally but many don’t, preferring the shorter route offered by the banned U-turn.
The Boulevard provides access to and from the main Financial Centre road flanking Dubai Mall. A number of hotels, landmarks and tourist attractions are on the Boulevard.
Another problem spot on the Boulevard is the no U-turn junction near Fashion Parking, where similar scenes can be witnessed.
“It’s very dangerous to make a U-turn there as people are coming out of the parking in front of the U-turn – there can be a collision,” said a woman motorist who frequents the mall.
“I almost got hit once, I had to slow down to avoid a crash. I was so scared and surprised there was a car coming towards me.”
Major General Mohammad Saif Al Zafein, Chief of Dubai Police Traffic Department, told Gulf News on Sunday that the road sign is installed by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in coordination with the master developer of the area, to ensure the free and safe flow of traffic.
“People should obey traffic rules for their own safety. Since there’s a ban on U-turn in those two areas, people should avoid the manoeuvre,” said Major General Al Zafein. He warned that traffic police patrols are monitoring the area and will issue fines to offenders.
An alarmed Canadian resident of Downtown Dubai described the situation as an accident waiting to happen.
Ziyad Khoja, 30, said: “It’s dangerous, some pedestrian’s going to get hurt or there’ll be a car accident. It’s bound to happen.”
Another Canadian resident, Dilshara Pulle, 31, said she has witnessed at least one collision, having experienced close calls herself.
Pulle said: “I use that traffic light every day to go home, and there’s at least one or two cars trying to make a U-turn while we’re taking a left turn. You always feel like they’re going to hit you, and they honk at you for not letting them pass — as if we’re in the wrong.
“I saw this happen once, when a cab was making the U-turn and hit a car going left.”
Khoja added: “I’ve always seen this happening since I’ve been living here — around two years. From what I can tell, the no U-turn sign came up about a year ago. That didn’t really change anything — maybe even more people are making the U-turn because I guess it’s become busier.
“I go there every day on the way home in the evenings, it happens without fail. I see a cop there maybe once a week, usually on the weekend. He’s on the corner, taking down the number plate of the cars doing it.
“It’s used as a short cut. Some people who come out of the mall parking want to exit out of the area, but they don’t have the patience to go all the way down the road and make a U-turn.
Pulle said: “It’s dangerous, it’s a busy intersection. Some pedestrians take longer to cross the whole way and if there’s a car making a U-turn, that’s not good. I don’t know why they do it — are they being lazy or did they not see the no U-turn sign?”
With inputs by Bassma Al Jandaly, senior reporter