Neil Halligan drives home a few points about the UAE’s roads
This week I read with interest the latest reminder from Dubai Police that the fast lanes are for fast cars.
As a regular user of Dubai roads, and the ‘interesting’ E11 that connects the Northern Emirates with Abu Dhabi, I’m always interested in what solutions the authorities come up with to try and find a solution for the daily mayhem that is driving on the UAE’s roads.
And that’s exactly what it is – mayhem.
The commute for drivers from the capital to Dubai, or vice versa, is down to luck – the lucky ones get to their destination on time, and the unlucky ones get stuck in a massive tailback following the latest accident, or worse still, are actually the cause of that tailback – unwittingly or not.
And when it rains, it’s like demolition derby.
The last heavy downpour in March this year saw 407 accidents between 9pm on a Tuesday and 1pm the following day, resulting in 5,722 phone calls to Dubai Police.
Thankfully, it doesn’t rain too often here.
So the latest directive from Dubai Police was a reminder that the fast lanes are, in fact, for faster driving vehicles.
It’s a welcome reminder, because it also reminds drivers that you need to be aware of the speed that you’re driving at in relation to drivers in other lanes.
The Dubai Traffic Police chief rightly points out that one of the main causes of accidents on Dubai roads is the large differences in speed between vehicles.
Another is the sudden swerving on roads, which is an all-too-often occurrence on the roads.
Driving to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix one year, a colleague witnessed a car being driven at high speed in the ‘slow’ lane, when all of a sudden the car veered from one side of the road to the other in one swift movement.
It was an attempt to get through traffic as quick possible. Sadly, though, the car crashed, and ended in a fatality for one of the car’s occupants.
It’s an extreme example, but nonetheless provides a stark reminder of the dangers of being reckless behind a wheel.
Clearly, with the number of accidents, and the alarming regularity of them, something has to change.
The issuing of fines is a good deterrent, but education – like the recent media coverage – is an important tool for authorities and the lines of communication should remain open.
When it comes to educating drivers and communicating with them, there needs to be a campaign to target the worst offenders and the Dubai Traffic Police will have statistics to show exactly which nationalities they should be talking to when it comes to accidents.
The statistics should also show where the accidents are taking place on a regular basis (listen to radio any morning or evening will narrow them down) and, as a suggestion, maybe identify the accident black spots, and draw up a clear plan of action to combat the issues in these areas.
In an ideal world, there would be fewer vehicles on the roads, and when passenger services on the soon-to-be-built rail line between Abu Dhabi and Dubai becomes operational in the coming years, you will hopefully see a marked decrease in road users.
But by the same token, how many less would be on the roads in and out of Sharjah if there was a rail line connection to Dubai – even just to the Metro? It should become more than just a discussion.