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Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Tragic Week On Dubai's Roads

Actually it seems that every week is a tragic one, with an average of one death every single day so far this year. But in the last few days the papers have been reporting the human stories behind these statistics. A guy killed in the wee small hours when the car he was a passenger in plunged off the Maktoum Bridge and into the Creek (the bridge has a lifting section to allow the passage of small ships - it is opened about 3am each day and there are plenty of warnings and flashing lights). Another guy hit by a vehicle trying to 'undertake' a bus on the hard shoulder - the victim was changing a tyre. And a young chap smashed into by a speeding driver as he was pushing his car to a petrol station.

We go on and on and on about the lousy driving standards in this town. But nothing ever gets done about it. Speed cameras are not the answer: driver education and acceptance of responsibility are. And it would certainly not go amiss if the Police started to act like they actually care about this problem.

Oh, and how about enforcing the law that says car windows cannot have a tint of more than 30%? Like, every day, not just once a year when the car goes for registration? If you cannot see out of your damn windows you certainly cannot begin to drive safely, especially not at night.

14 Comments:

Blogger samuraisam said...

I don't think education is a part of the problem.

It's simply people not giving a damn, fair enough not everyone got licenses in Dubai under equal standards, however if the police did give a damn, the uneducated/ungiveafuckingdamn drivers wouldn't actually be a problem.

It all boils down to the police. They should be regulating the standards that driving schools are made to adhere to, they make people scared, they make people know they can't get away with driving like retards, they create the rules, they (supposedly) enforce the rules.

If they fail to do their jobs, there is nothing that will improve driving in Dubai.
Simple as that.

And as for car tints, a pretty competent argument seems to be for the privacy of women, I can't think of any other reason for the tint allowance, even for women, 15-30% tint should be plenty.

If the police are scared to target all of the major wastafarians in Dubai, fair enough, at least get rid of all the other morons.

5:51 pm  
Anonymous archer14 said...

The problem is with getting licences in extremely short time spans and the general problem of being just too damn rich. 200 Dh fines are passe for most buggers who drive 200,000 Dh SUVs. The only way is to directly set humps on hard shoulders. You aren't supposed to be driving on that lane anyway. Why don't they simply construct these humps at a moderate expense of 5 billion Dhs, to be finished by 2009?

6:22 pm  
Blogger CG said...

excellent idea archer. speed humps.

9:58 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Archer: there is a stretch of Sheikh Zayed Road (between Jebel Ali Port and the Jebel Ali Village junctions) that has mini speed lumps on the hard shoulder.

But that wouldn't have helped two of those guys - one was pushing his car on a normal road near Garhoud Bridge, and the other was driven onto a section of the Maktoum Bridge that wasn't there.

10:22 am  
Blogger Seabee said...

Education's fine and very necessary - but it's a generational thing. It can help today's kids to understand how to drive well & why, so the future won't be as lethal. For that reason it has to happen as do ongoing safe driving campaigns.

But it isn't going to stop the homicidal lunatics we have on the roads today. You can't educate people with their mindset because you're dealing with utter breathtaking stupidity.

They see the accidents every day the same as us. They read the newspaper reports the same as us. They're as aware as we are of the dangers - but they carry on doing what they do anyway. You ain't gonna educate that level of stupidity out of them.

And, I might add, they come from all over, not just the sub-continent and sandlands. Drive, as I do, around Dubai Marina and the free zones and white faces are up there high on the Moron League Table.

As Sam said, it's down to the police to enforce the laws and rules.

While typing this, an e-mail from a friend has arrived. He monitors the police website and they've just posted this:

Friday 24/03/2006
Trampling accident

The oprations room has recived a phone call about a trampling accident, which occurred on Sheikh Zayed road.After invevtigation,it appeared that the cause of the accident referred to over speeding and careless driving also crossing the yellow line which cause to hit a person was behind the road.The person faced his death in the same place of the accident.


Sorry for the interruption - but yet another example of a speeding out-of-control car killing someone.

Yes, as Sam said, it's down to the police. There has to be a big visible presence on the roads and they have to pull the potential killers off the roads. Licence and vehicle taken away, duty in an accident ward for a given number of hours (like community service sentences) and a long, and I mean long, jail term for anyone driving after being suspended.

We all know that's where the problem lies, the rules are completely ignored by people because they know they can get away with it. The only way to stop the carnage is to get the cretins off the roads.

4:52 pm  
Blogger samuraisam said...

ahhh... the Dubai Police website, I highly suggest you read the CID's (it's a link on the side) monthly stories, the one about a marijuana operation was particularly funny;

"It was that thin line between reality and hallucination that was lost from this group. They were under the Marijuana influence , going high in their fascinations and rejoicing with this intoxication sense .They went too far to keep this sense , deciding to provide their own supplement of this narcotic plant , even if it means growing it in their own accommodation. The Anti-Narcotics officials in Dubai Police, nevertheless , were leading a surveillance, watching the group of men pampering the weed and awaiting for it to grow .The Force dropped in just on time , before the weed turning into blue smoke ."


from here

10:09 pm  
Blogger moryarti said...

never believe newspaper reports on road accidents - they are always missing a big chunk of the truth..

11:45 pm  
Blogger Tainted Female said...

I have to comment on this because you all seem to have missed some large, very large parts. I for one, am tired of the traffic woes, and suggestions to improve it because almost everything has been said before. But…

One of the most important factors in the state of UAE current traffic problems is congestion; which leads to traffic-jams; which leads to irritated, aggravated, stressed our drivers; thus creating the “I don’t give a damn about the rules or anything else’ driver that is so common on these roads. In fact, I am even one of those drivers from time to time. And it’s not that inconceivably stupid, or a moron, I’m simply stressed out and tired of being the passive one getting trashed by all the other inconsiderate drivers here.

I spend an average of 7 hours in driving every single day, and I am not a taxi driver. I like you, do have more important things I could be spending my time on. There is nothing more frustrating than reaching Dubai after 10pm, knowing I still have to make it to Ajman before I can rest, and finding not one but many inconsiderate assholes driving 80kms/h hour on the fast lane at Shk Zayed, Emirates rd refusing to budge, forcing me to by-pass them on the right side.

The congestion is caused by a number of things, including the more than 1000 new licenses (I last heard, but can not confirm) Dubai issues every day. One of the main, and overlooked causes aside from that is the bloody layout of the city. The population of people living in the northern emirates and working in one of the media or internet cities is ridiculous. And the reason is, affordable accommodation simply hasn’t been provided in those areas, or even nearer to Jebal Ali. If those cities weren’t there in the first place, all clumped up together, but rather each those business had its own separate location, this wouldn’t be such a problem.

Say a very conservative thousand people travel to and from internet city from Sharjah every day at approximately the same working time, and sure it’s going to cause congestion. Then add to that the thousand from media city, the thousand from knowledge city, in addition to all those who want to purchase or do business with some company in one of the said cities and you’ve got a traffic nightmare. Do you see? It’s not only the cost of accommodation, or location, or asshole idiot drivers, it’s all of it combined. And there is no 1 solid answer or solution, whether it is the new point system or video campaign. For that very reason, it’s going to take time and complaining about it won’t help.

Another thing, I am one of those people who has very dark tint (70%), and I have to ask you all, when was the last time you were in a tinted car? There are different types and most of it, you can see through from the inside as if it’s not even there. And I don’t just keep it because I’m a woman and got sick of being followed, I keep it because we’re in a sunny hot country, and it helps keep the car cool, and save my eyes from being burned by the sun, during my 7 or more hours on the road each day.

9:17 am  
Blogger samuraisam said...

Tainted: I think what everyone else is pissed off about is the fact that it takes 5-10 years of planning for Dubai Metro, which should've been built so it was completed today, but palm island etc can magically appear overnight.

Also, I've been in cars with what i'd assume to be 50%-80%+ tint, during the blinding hot day it isn't so much a problem, but once it reaches dusk/evening it does look like it is a challenge to drive

10:41 am  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Tainted: you sound like an accident waiting to happen.Yes, things could have been better planned so that people can afford to live closer to their work - in fact Jebel Ali Gardens was planned to provide low-cost housing for Media City / Internet City and JAFZA workers, and has been so succesful that you basically have to kill an existing tenant to get a place.

More should be done, I agree. But private developers are not likely to do it when they can sell 'luxury' boxes for gazillions of dirhams.

As for the tints issue, I really don't agree with you. The 'law' allows a 30% tint, and if that rule was actually enforced then I am sure it would reduce the number of accidents.

1:02 pm  
Blogger Seabee said...

Of course the problem is multi-faceted, but we're talking about the huge toll of human life caused by murderous driving.

Congestion isn't unique to Dubai, for God's sake! It's even worse in many other cities. Congestion happens all over the world, with the resulting frustration, but you don't get the level of criminally stupid driving that we get here.
The motorways in the UK are not much more than parking lots, the roads out of Sydney are the same, Bangkok is a nightmare...

I've said on my Blog about the new roads around Marina and the free zones suddenly becoming (almost) free of traffic...but the clearer roads have led to even more stupid, reckless, dangerous speeding. "Oh good, the road's clear so I can hurl my Landcruiser along at 120kph", even though the limit is 80. That has nothing to do with frustration at being in a traffic jam.

Tainted said:
In fact, I am even one of those drivers from time to time. And it’s not that inconceivably stupid, or a moron, I’m simply stressed out and tired of being the passive one getting trashed by all the other inconsiderate drivers here.

So the answer is to become one of them? Not in my book it isn't.

2:31 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Reports say there a 1,000 new driving licences issued in Dubai every day. Yes Seabee, it is a generational thing but consider this: what is the average length of time an expat spends in Dubai? Anything from a month to a decade or more. The turnover of drivers is rapid, and those from countries whose licences are not recognised must learn to drive all over again. That in itself would cure a lot of stupidity if they were taught to drive properly.

As for locals, I've heard from one local that Natural Selection plays a role - the survival of the sanest - but facetiousness aside, you have to start somewhere. If the youngsters are taught how to drive properly, and to have a spot of respect for other road users, then in a few years we might see things calming down.

2:43 pm  
Blogger Tainted Female said...

Keefieboy,

I won’t deny that you’re probably right. I may very well be an accident waiting to happen. But then, I’ve already been through this in my blog. Bottom line, I’d rather pay the fines and deal with any medical issues I might face because of an accident, while keeping my sanity for as long as I can manage, than letting my sanity slip because of the serious frustrations this congestion combined with inconsiderate nature of drivers here, paying the medical bills for that, and risking becoming a “Mad Max” and intentionally hitting numerous cars, all the while knowing the sad fact that if I’m on or even near the road in the first place, driving safe or not, there’s always going to be some idiot driver who will potentially cause an accident or my death anyway. Knowing the chances of an accident are already so high, I’d at least like to spare myself the stress of dealing with the rest of it.

But then, that’s just my opinion.

And seabea, congestion may be a problem in many, many places, but if I’m not mistaken not only is it worse in UAE (a report in Gulf News the other day stated that the average person spends more time in traffic in the UAE than anywhere else? I think), combined with the ludicrous, inconsiderate actions of other drivers; refusing to give way, deliberately pushing other drivers out of their way, ignoring what was once considered the UAE’s driving culture (flashing of lights) and calling it insulting and pushy, talking on phones, stopping just about anywhere you feel, etc. Not to mention the confusion about traffic laws and speed limits in the first place. I don’t care what’s posted on the signs, the speed limit on Shk Zayed rd is no less than 120kms/h anywhere, and goes right up to 140kms/h. So why are people braking till 80kms/h to avoid getting flashed by radars?

” "Oh good, the road's clear so I can hurl my Landcruiser along at 120kph", even though the limit is 80. That has nothing to do with frustration at being in a traffic jam.”

How can you not see the connection? Let a bird out of a cage and watch how she flies.

So the answer is to become one of them? Not in my book it isn't.

Well this is where we may have to agree to disagree. Because the consequences of being a passive driver over joining them just don’t add up for me. I have a lot more to lose financially (as I’m missing work; thus my employee’s potential is unmotivated and probably not as productive), health wise (as I’m getting highly stressed, lacking sleep and spending more hours than physically acceptable daily in a sitting position while driving), and psychologically (because I’m losing the time I am, I’d be missing out on my life, my family and anything else that’s important to me). But then, I am driving daily from Ajman to Abu Dhabi and back. Maybe if my trips were shorter, I’d agree with you. And hopefully, soon enough my trips will be shorter and we’ll be able to see eye to eye here.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not proud of losing it, speeding or whatever. And it's not something I enjoy doing. Every morning I wonder if it's going to be the day I die on my way to work, or even worse the day I cause someone else harm. But until something is done about the whole situation, I don't myself changing much.

4:55 pm  
Blogger Seabee said...

tainted, I used to spend six hours a day commuting in and out of Sydney until I couldn't stand it any more and moved closer to the office. Like here, public transport is a joke so driving was a better option.

Live as close to your workplace as you possibly can is the answer.

2:39 pm  

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