Dubai: Those who pick up bad road habits seldom consider the consequences of their actions which may lead to severe road hazards.
Though texting while driving, among other bad road habits, has become as frequent as using car indicators, the action remains unjustifiable.
Gulf News reveals some bad experiences of UAE residents on the road, including their reaction to some of the incidents they encountered.
Colonel Jamal Al Bannai, Acting Director of Dubai Traffic Police, said that Dubai Police urge people to follow traffic rules and regulations. “People should not underestimate those violations, even if they think it’s minor, because they can lead to traffic jams and accidents.”
He added that people put their lives and the lives of others at risk by committing these offences, because they are not fully aware of the dangers of what they are doing.
Dubai Police, Al Bannai said, do not go easy on offenders and issue them fines.
Kholousi Khayal, Palestinian, 30, based in Sharjah
“I was once driving along Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road on the fast lane hitting the maximum allowable speed when a vehicle behind me sticks to my car’s rear end and starts honking and flashing. I had nowhere to go, because my right side was blocked by a vehicle, and I couldn’t speed up also as I was already at the maximum allowable limit. When the driver behind me noticed that I wouldn’t be moving anywhere he overtook me on the hard shoulder and, unfortunately, a vehicle was parked there. He ended up ramming that vehicle at a speed of 140km/h minimum which resulted in a huge accident that almost included me. Luckily I managed to overtake the wreckage caused by this reckless driver. However it saddened me to know the next day that the driver parked on the side was a girl who passed away that same day.”
Rebecca Tierney, English, 39, based in Dubai
“I think what irritates me the most is aggressive tailgating, when someone is right at your bumper and they’re flashing at you continuously. When this happens to me, as a reaction, there is very little I can do because I’m in the farthest left lane which is the fast lane. Sometimes it’s difficult to move right away given that there is a car on your right and the tailgater right at your bumper. The main emotion is the intimidation. It stresses me the most because you feel as though you’re being bullied on the road so my reaction is just moving to the next lane.”
Ramesh Menon, Indian, 46, based in Abu Dhabi
“Speed thrill and impatience are two of the worst driving habits I’ve witnessed on the roads in the UAE. When it’s winter and foggy, early morning hours on highways are dangerous due to poor visibility. Poor visibility added with impatience of some drivers becomes one of the main reasons for accidents during this time. But, fog is not always the case. Two recent instances still haunt my memory and were caused by speeding. One day, a speeding car ignored the warning signs on the road and ended up colliding with the roadwork barriers on the highway. The car later caught fire. In another incident, a young man on a motorbike was speeding and weaving through the traffic that was halting due to an accident. He was driving so fast that he couldn’t brake. He ended up hitting another vehicle ahead. Both situations could have been averted had they been patient on the road.”
Reda Baghdady, Egyptian, 54, based in Dubai
“I have lost count of how many times I have seen people driving recklessly because they’re busy speaking on the phone. A person would be driving slowly on a highway because they’re on their phone, and what would my response be? I’d overtake them and drive even slower to teach them a lesson. One habit that so many drivers have, which is really my worst nightmare, is failing to respect the queue. Some drivers feel too special to queue behind other cars and decide to overtake the entire line by abruptly joining the queue from the very front of the line. I leave almost no space between my car and the car in front of me in order to prevent them from squeezing in.”
Shalna Sathyapalan, Indian, 22, based in Abu Dhabi
“We ladies can’t help but use our rear view mirror or visor mirror as a mini mirror but we often forget the fact that applying mascara behind the wheel could be jeopardising our safety. Recently I witnessed an incident where a young lady driver, who was on the second lane from the left, had stopped at the intersection and was busy applying make up. The signal heading straight had turned green and the car beside hers was honked at by the cars behind to drive forward. Hearing the noise she thought her signal had turned green and took a left without realising that the signal towards the left was still red. Cars were approaching from the opposite side and she applied sudden brakes, avoiding a collision.”
Zubair Haider, Pakistani, 35, based in Dubai
“There are times when I am surprised to see people talking on their phones while driving without a headset. It seems as though it’s a fashion taboo to use either wired or Bluetooth headsets while on the move. The nonchalant response often is, ‘Well I am stuck in traffic resembling a parking lot, so not a lot to be worried about’. When you get used to something it becomes the norm and that’s a problem. I choose not to react given that I mainly experience this during rush hours which are when people are the most agitated and stressed. Advice from my side could potentially turn into a conflict and road rage might ensue. I have seen over the top reactions from people. I’ve seen cars crossing lanes coming close to accidents. In the madness I guess we all feel like haters and we cannot fix a mistake by causing another. Live and let live is the attitude seen more than most.”
Mohammad Ali, Syrian, 24, based in Dubai
“I have a friend with really crazy driving habits. Sometimes he drives at a speed of 220km/h on Jumeirah Road in his BMW 645. He gets fined almost all the time, and I still remember the day he had to pay around Dh50,000 in fines. There was this one night when I was with him in the car and he almost lost control of the vehicle. He was driving his Hyundai Accent on Al Wasl Road and was speeding and was a bit tipsy too. He was about to skip a red traffic light because he did not want to stop and wait for it to change. He suddenly braked so hard, and if not for my seat belt, I think I would have flown out of the car and got seriously injured. From that day, I learned that I shouldn’t be riding with people with reckless driving habits.”
Sara Al Boom, Emirati, 22, based in Dubai
“I hate it when drivers make abrupt decisions to cross from the last lane just to catch an exit. It shows an ugly side of road etiquette. Drivers who have this mentality of ‘fast lane’ and ‘slow lane’ is what is causing this tendency to drive recklessly without considering the lives of others. We should try and eliminate that mentality by enforcing stronger laws on our drivers, for their own safety.”
Mohammad Kassem, Iraqi, 26, based in Sharjah
“I would like to share my experience about one of the worst habits I’ve seen by drivers. This has happened many times, and I think it could be one of the reasons why people get so frustrated when they’re driving and may take out their anger on others. I was once driving from Sharjah to Dubai heading for an interview and there was a massive traffic jam that continued for more than two hours. Obviously, I knew there was an accident on the road, but I expected it to be very serious. When I reached the accident, I saw two cars that had stopped in the middle of the road after a small accident, and the cars were barely even scratched. The drivers left the car and stood outside waiting for police to arrive, which caused the huge traffic tailback. I always think about how unthoughtful such people are, because if the car can still move, they should simply move it to the hard shoulder to allow a smooth flow of traffic. In other cases, the other drivers on the road are so curious to see the accident, and they don’t know that they could get into an accident for not staying focused.”
Adel Zuberi, American, 29, based in Dubai
“Driving in the Emirates is quite unique. It comes with specific characteristics and driving habits that can’t be found anywhere else. Although road rage exists everywhere you have wheels and tarmac, you’ll be hard-pressed to find this specific brand. With large, powerful cars competing for space on the road, it almost becomes a game of tag. The bigger the car, the more terror it incites among people. The nasty habit of tailgating takes a new meaning where people effectively use their cars as a weapon, threatening to run others off the road. If they’re not meek enough to move over at the first sign of headlights flashing, they’re showered with many more, like strobe lights in a club.
Driving a truck, I occasionally find myself failing to uphold myself to higher driving standards and giving in to what’s passionately known as Dubai driving. People who are unfortunate to own smaller cars have learned to give way to larger vehicles such as mine or risk facing our ‘wrath’. I’ll be the first to say this culture is unhealthy, but am at a complete loss of words on how to fix it.”
--Maria Boutros is a trainee at Gulf News