Image for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: Police rescued an Emirati man from his four-wheel drive after he put it on cruise control at 160km an hour - and couldn't turn it off.

In scenes which could have come straight out of the Hollywood movie, Speed, the motorist called 999 and said he had activated the cruise control mechanism but lost control on the Abu Dhabi-Al Ain highway, police said on Saturday.

The Emirati motorist told police that he lost control of the vehicle at the Al Khatem area.

The dramatic event was reminiscent of the blockbuster movie starring Keanu Reeves in which a bus is forced to travel at more than 50 miles per hour to avoid a bomb on the bus from exploding.

But, thankfully, the incident in Abu Dhabi did not reach the same dangerous climax.

After receiving the alert the police immediately dispatched three patrol vehicles and traced the speeding car, said Brigadier Engineer Hussain Ahmad Al Harithi, Director of Traffic and Patrols at Abu Dhabi Police.

One patrol vehicle drove ahead of the moving car to clear the road and advised the terrified motorist to follow the pilot vehicle.

Another two patrol vehicles were dispatched to drive alongside the perilously fast-moving car in case it careered off the road and crashed.

Real risk

But the motorist could not operate the cruise control or apply the brakes and the car continued at top speeds, posing a real risk of causing several fatal crashes.

At one point, Abu Dhabi police were planning to lead the car to an uninhabited area to somehow reduce the speed and stop the vehicle.

Meanwhile, the police officials from the central operations department started giving safety instructions to the motorist over the phone.

They advised him to fasten the seatbelts and take similar precautions which he followed. Then they asked him to leave the accelerator and brakes untouched and apply the handbrake slowly.

It worked.

After about 45 minutes, the car eventually slowed down and came to a complete stop at Ramah, near the Abu Dhabi — Al Ain highway, giving a sigh of relief to the motorist and dozens of police officers who were involved in the emergency rescue mission.

Rare defect

A mechanical engineer working with Abu Dhabi Police told Gulf News the trouble in the car was caused by a very rare manufacturing defect in its cruise control system.

If the cruise control system malfunctions, it will affect the brake system also, said the engineer who did not want to be named.

He said it was a new Japanese car.

The dusty weather during the previous week must have also contributed to the malfunctioning defect as the dust must have entered the system, he added.

The engineer said the motorist could sue the car manufacturer and the agency in the UAE for the damages, as the malfunctioning put him into a very dangerous situation.

The motorist has not yet taken any legal action, he said.