Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Traffic Rules OK

Many thanks to Ahmed The Fish, who has today sent me an email describing the penalties for various traffic offences that you may commit in Dubai and the penalties for doing so. There are 105 of them. I list below a tasty selection, with my comments...and by the way, I never knew they had penalty points on licences. Don't know how many gets ya disqualified or anyfink.

  • Entering the roundabout from the wrong lane. Dhs 100, 2 points on yer licence.
  • Overtaking vehicles on the right or in a dangerous way. Dhs 150, 3 points.
    Aha! Been doing it wrong all this time.
  • Failing to give signals when changing lanes or entering a roundabout. Dhs 150, 1 point.
    Not me mister.
  • Failing to leave enough between vehicles, Dhs 100, 1 point.
    Enough what?

  • Parking on the left side of the road. Dhs 150, 2 points .
  • Failing to ensure that the vehicle comes to a full stop. Dhs 150, 1 point.
  • Use of horn in restricted areas in a disturbing manner. Dhs 100, 1 point.
    Restricted? Disturbing?
  • Driving noise-producing vehicles, Dhs 100, 1 point
    That would be like, everyone!
  • Driving at a speed below "minimum speed" for the road. Dhs 100, 0 points.
    What is that exactly?
  • The sudden deviation in direction. Dhs 150, 1 point .
    But I need to go to Al Ain, NOW!
  • Driving in the wrong direction, Dhs 200, 3 points.
    This is the way to Al Ain, yes?
  • Enter the road in a dangerous way, Dhs 400, 4 points.
    3 of my 4 wheels are on the ground, what's your problem?
  • Littering motorists. Dhs 100, 2 points
    I try not to hit them, but they get everywhere.
  • Using rotating spot lights with different colors. Dhs 100, 2 points.
    Well the police. ambulance and fire service get away with it, why not me?
  • Leaving vehicle on the road with its engine running. Dhs 100, 3 points.
    Stuck on Sheikh Zayed Road again.
  • Opening the left hand door of a taxi. Dhs 100, 2 points.
    And if the passenger doesn't have a licence?

The list seems to be fairly comprehensive (actually too comprehensive) but the problem is to do with enforcement. I have witnessed most of these 'violations'- I've frequently seen punters speeding past police cars at well over the speed limit, and nothing ever happens.

Forgive me (deport me if you must), but I think we have a serious cultural problem here. Most of the cops on the street are Yemenis. They are poor, not-well-educated, and for them being a cop in Dubai is absolutely the best thing they could be. They are not going to rock any boats. They are not going to put themselves in a situation where they have to charge a rich and powerful local. The fines listed above are utterly meaningless to the rich young locals who cause most of the accidents. The confiscation of the vehicle is also meaningless - they have plenty more at home, and if they don't they can very easily get another one. Any problem that these guys face is dealt with by money and / or wasta (influence).

What it boils down to is respect for the rule of law (although it would help if the laws relating to driving were somewhat better publicised). There are cases in the UK where members of the royal family have been done for various traffic violations, and this is a splendid example. It shows that the law can and should be applied without fear or favour to all classes of society. Until the UAE can demonstrate that there is one law for everybody, no matter who they are and where they're from, we are all at risk from 'Road Surprises'. If you ever go to Abu Dhabi or the Northern Emirates, you will see signs saying 'Beware of Road Surprises' - I take this to mean unmarked speedbumps or lunatics in fast cars doing 200 kph up your donkey


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have recently been to Dubai. None of the traffic violations you listed apply to the locals. It seems as thought they just dicovered the automobile. Great city with much to look at. The driving seems a bit crazy . Jurmiah Beach Rd. is one good place to see what I am talking about.

12:28 am  
Blogger Ace said...

Dubai's a crazy place to drive alright. Way too many bad drivers. I just 'dislike' travelling from Sh. Zayed and crossing Maktoum Bridge(and the computer street - bank street section. ugh).
I know this one dude who travels from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah on a daily basis. Whenever I decide to rant I think of him and I feel that I'm def. better off.

2:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, you havent written in a while, Was wondering if you set up the venture ? Is that you? If not I think its a very similar style. Anyway, please come back to the blog. I enjoy reading your ravings.

Sam, UK

12:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cops here in Dubai are really nothing more than window dressing. I don't understand spending all that money on Mercedez and BMW's so that they can just drive around, aimlessly, all day! My dad has lived out here for 10 years and he has never seen anyone being pulled over by a cop. Cut the force by 75% and maybe, then, they wouldn't have to develop new taxes...I mean 'fees' every few weeks to generate revenue.
What really gets me in knots is when I see people on the Sh. Zayed Rd. flashing cops to get out of the way!! Such is Dubai...=o)

5:06 pm  

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