Motorists trying to make a U turn should watch out for oncoming vehicles before doing so. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Road accidents are often caused by actions that appear to be small but they can even prove fatal. Not giving way or forcing your way into traffic is one such act that can have dire consequences.

According to expert opinion, a driver’s lack of respect for other road users is reflected in their reluctance to give way, leading to bouts of road rage and accidents.

In many cases, not giving way may stem from lack of awareness on right of way as well as indecision on the part of drivers.

So who gets to go and when?

“Never insist on taking the right of way,” said Abdul Razzaq, assistant technical manager at Emirates Driving Institute Dubai, urging motorists to be courteous to others.

“Drivers should never assume that other drivers will yield the ‘right of way’ nor attempt to force their way into traffic. They should try to anticipate other drivers’ actions, as well as yielding. Always remember, giving up the right of way to other drivers helps avoid crashes. Drivers should attempt to be both courteous and conscientious towards other drivers,” he said.

Basic principle

‘Right of way’ is one of the basic subjects that is covered both in theory and in practice in Dubai’s driver training curriculum. However, once the trainees get their licence and as time passes, they tend to forget the rules. Instead of giving way, they speed up when they see another motorist trying to join their lane, even if there is enough space.

Drivers should never assume that other drivers will yield the ‘right of way’ nor attempt to force their way into traffic.

- Abdul Razzaq, Emirates Driving Institute staff

“People speeding up and not allowing others to enter a lane has become common. If there is enough [of a] gap, there is no reason to speed up [and] one should give way. There is also an issue with those who disrespectfully cut in, while other motorists follow the queue. This is something that really annoys me,” said Faheem Ahmad, an Indian expatriate with more than 20 years’ driving experience.

People speeding up, not allowing others to enter a lane has become common. If there is enough [of a] gap, there is no reason to do so.

- Faheem Ahmad, Dubai resident

Razzaq said drivers are specifically taught how they should give way to pedestrians, vehicles on major roads, through roads, at T-junctions or when they are approaching the same through a minor road.

In addition, police, ambulances, civil defence and other emeregency vehicles must always get right of way. Military vehicles in a convoy and children boarding or alighting a school bus should also get right of way.

Mutual respect

Some drivers feel that although they know what is right, other drivers make it difficult for them to follow the rules.

“New drivers are particularly under pressure due to the way others behave on roads and this leads to a lot of accidents. One of the issues that I want to highlight is about taking the free right. In many cases, all vehicles cannot enter the free lane from the starting point and those already on the free lane won’t let others enter even if there is space. I feel drivers should give space to each other and there should be mutual respect,” said Nurul Ameen, a Dubai resident with over five years of driving experience.

Another instance which causes confusion with regard to right of way is traffic junction or roundabout where there is no signal. More often than not, motorists are either less careful about oncoming vehicles or just ignore the danger.

New drivers are particularly under pressure due to the way others behave on roads and this leads to a lot of accidents.

- Nurul Ameen, Dubai resident

Razzaq said vehicles reaching an uncontrolled traffic junction first should get the right of way. However, motorists are required to always stop and proceed only if it is safe to do so.

Motorists should also give way to vehicles coming on the road when they are pulling out from a parking lot.

“The one who is driving the car out of the parking space must give way to the motorists already on the road,” said Razzaq.

If a motorist on the road doesn’t let the car come out of the parking lot, the driver in the bay needs to wait for a safe gap or use a hand signal to request a way.

Hand signals could also be used in situations when a motorist needs to change lanes when other motorists don’t allow it, added Razzaq.

What is right of way?

Right of way is the right of a pedestrian or vehicle to proceed with precedence over others in a particular situation or place. It refers to a precedence in passing accorded to one vehicle over another by custom, decision, or statute. If you are a motorist, you would do well to follow these rules:

• Give way to pedestrians, whether they are on a designated pedestrian crossing or anywhere else on the road

• Give way to vehicles that are on through roads, at ‘T-junctions’

• Always give way to vehicles on a major road, when you are approaching the same through a minor road

• Give way to the vehicles coming on the road when you pull out of parking

• Stop and give way to children boarding or alighting a school bus as long as the red lights flash or the stop arm is out

• Always give way to emergency vehicles (police, ambulances, civil defence) if the siren and beacon lights are on

• Give way to military vehicles if they are coming as a convoy

• Stop and give way to the vehicle that first reaches a traffic junction or roundabout where there is no signal

• Watch out for cyclists and motorcyclists and give way to them as they are vulnerable on the road