We’ve all seen people drive recklessly or do something completely ridiculous behind the wheel. But are we guilty of doing the same?
If we are true to ourselves, most of us have indulged in that one experience of rash driving when we bent to pick up the mobile phone that suddenly fell down… or couldn’t resist biting into that cupcake we bought for eating later. Did you know – according to studies, taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds at 100 km/ hour means that you are effectively driving blind for 55 meters.
We spoke to a few UAE residents, who on condition of anonymity, agreed to reveal some of their most extreme ‘living on the edge’ moments while driving a car:
“I’ve changed my footwear multiple times while driving”
A lady needs many styles of footwear for sure. And invariably, her car doubles as her shoe rack with a good stock of staples available at hand – Slippers for the beach, sports shoes for a walk and stilettos for an impromptu party night.
A 25 year old HR executive reveals that not only does she have a stock of shoes in her car, but that one of her “greatest talents” is to change from shoes to slippers and vice versa while driving. How? “When I’ll be approaching a curve or a red signal I’ll have to reduce the speed. I start removing my left shoe slowly and change. Now the challenge is — changing the right foot. This means I’ll have to drive with my left, which is intense!”
You do realize that this is supremely risky? we ask. Yes, she admits sheepishly “It has became one of my unsafe habits that I must change.”
You should know: In a statement from the UAE Ministry of Interior, a total of 147 deaths and 1,684 injuries occurred due to road accidents during the first three months of 2015. The main causes of these were listed as sudden swerving, negligence and inattention to driving.
“I’ve had a two hour conversation on WhatsApp”
This 32 year old sales professional reveals that after having a bad day at work for not having met his sales targets, he drove the entire route from Media City to Sharjah while having a chat on WhatsApp with his boss and super boss. “It wasn’t the best decision to have taken, but I was under a lot of pressure!”
How many kids do you have – we ask him. Two, he confirms. Would you do the same if they were in the car with you? His horrified expression assures us that it’s never happening again.
You should know: Despite it being a violation, more than 30 percent of motorists admit to using their phones and reading texts while driving, according to a Zurich Insurance survey. In 2014, the Dubai Traffic Police department issued 40,957 fines for mobile phone usage. The fine is AED 200 and four black points.
“I like to have at least three things in my hands to eat”
For this 22 year old fresh graduate, food and eating is a very important part of life. “What else can you do while being stuck in hours of traffic on the roads of Dubai?” she asks with such earnestness, we don’t know what to say.
“I like to entertain myself with at least three things in my hands to eat. I have seen people eat pancakes with a fork and knife while driving, but never gone so far personally!”
You should know: More than a third of UAE drivers get distracted behind the wheel. In 2013, 41 deaths were caused due to distracted drivers suddenly swerving between lanes. This number accounted for over 25% of the total deaths caused in traffic accidents that year.
On hearing this, the young girl promises to amend her ways and even spread the message to her friends.
“I’ve shaved my beard and gelled my hair”
Nobody wants to reach an interview late and not groomed. For a 28 year old marketing expert – getting his dream job was only one meeting away. Except, he was running late on the day of this interview. To save time, he dashed off from home with a razor, cream, gel and comb in hand and achieved his “hire me” look while driving down to the office.
“I’m generally a very safe driver, and I would not do this had it not been for this job. It’s no excuse, and I plan to be better prepared the next time,” he tells us.
You should know: According to a circular issued by the UAE Ministry of Interior in 2014 – doing make up, grooming yourself and combing your hair behind the wheel is now considered a violation. Motorists will be fined AED 1,000 and their vehicles will be seized for a month. They also get 12 black points.
“I have a habit of driving at the upper cap of the speed limit”
Another Dubai resident recalls his habit of driving at the upper cap of the speed limit. “I was driving back from Abu Dhabi at a modest 139 km/h, so I didn’t set the speed camera off at 140 km/h. The issue arose when I noticed a 4×4 approximately three inches from my bumper. This unwelcome addition to my rear-view mirror came with a honking horn and flashing headlights. As if this was not bad enough, the car had a sun visor blocking the entire windscreen, with only a tiny gap for the driver to look out of.”
You should know: Tailgating is the leading causes of traffic accidents in Dubai, and resulted in 26 deaths last year. Almost 70,000 fines were issued in Dubai in 2014 for tailgating. There is an AED 400 fine and a penalty of 4 black points for failure to maintain a safe driving distance. To try and curb this menace, Dubai Police enforced a mandatory minimum five metre distance between cars starting from July 2015 and installed specially designed cameras to catch offenders.
Over speeding is also one of the most common traffic violation recorded on Dubai roads. Out of 3,355 incidents of reckless driving recorded in Dubai in the first quarter of this year, 2,790 were caused by drivers exceeding the maximum speed limit by more than 60 km/h. In 2015, police patrols and cameras recorded over 41,000 speed violations during the Eid Al Fitr holidays alone! Remember hearing the age old adage ‘Speed thrills, but kills’? The roads would be a lot safer if everyone did.
Some more crazy things residents have seen other drivers do:
- Taking selfies (#drivingselfie), texting and updating status on social media websites.
- Reading – Everything from newspapers to books.
- Making dogs or other pets ride shotgun
Besides the ones talked about here, there are so many other unsafe driving habits like jumping the red light, reckless overtaking, driving fast in residential areas and blatant carelessness on the road that don’t just result in fines, but loss of lives too.
You can call the toll-free Dubai Police hotline – 800 4353 or 800 7777 to report cases of traffic violation.
Since you can’t control the actions of other drivers on the road, the key to keeping yourself safe when you’re in the driver’s seat is to drive defensively.