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.