Stuff they don’t teach you in Driving School in Dubai

June 2nd, 2012.

Over the weekend I was having lunch with some friends and learnt that one of them just got her UAE Driving license and was currently renting a car. She was however complaining about how badly people really drive on the roads of Dubai. I was a little taken a back and then realized that this is actually quite a normal reaction for someone who has just passed his or her driving test. You see the thing is that your driving test which may be conducted in Al Quoz, Qusais or even Jumeirah is always done in what I would call, ‘Standard Test Condition.’ That is sort of like a utopian world where everyone follows the rules of the road and those who fail to do so, have to take eight more classes.

Seeing that we don’t live in Utopia where the roads are made of chocolate and the trees of candy floss, I thought I should compile this note for those of you who have just earned a UAE Driving license so that you know who you should watch out for on UAE roads. My friend’s complaint was that people kept cutting her off on Sheikh Zayed Road, the fact of the matter though is that you can predict all of this if you have been driving for a while. After sometime this becomes second nature and you do not even give it a second thought.

My theory is based on what I call Driver Profiling. You see, the car you drive defines the way you drive. This might not be something that many people would agree with, but try and think of the last time you were on Sheikh Zayed Road, Emirates Road or Al Khel Road and were cut off by a Grey Honda Civic. I’ve tried and I cannot recall even one. Most often when I drive along side a Honda Civic, I peep in to check out the speed on the funky digital speedometer. On Sheikh Zayed Road it is always between 95 and 99. You see, the thing with someone driving a Grey Honda Civic is that they are almost in all cases very responsible people. They take good care of their families and would rather adhere to the speed limit of 100 than drive at 119 and hope not to get flashed. In this note of mine, when I refer to someone as a hazard on the road, I mean one of 3 things. The person in question could be someone who changes lanes without indication; they could be someone who cuts you off forcing you to slow down or could be someone who tailgates behind you forcing you to give way.

Has a Superbike ever cut you off even when you were at the Camera Flashing Speed Limit (That’s the speed just below when you are flashed)? Come on, you know you have. You are doing 119 on a 100 road and the Superbike is doing 160kmph. Now the thing is that as a new driver you perhaps don’t realize that Superbikes rarely affect what you are doing on the road. A new driver needs to know that as long as you don’t react to being cut off by the Superbike, nothing will happen to you. In other words, don’t brake, accelerate or swerve left or right. Just stay calm and continue what you are doing. If you are on the phone, please hang up. And if you are texting or are on BBM, you really should stop calling yourself a new driver. Amongst bikes as well you can put bikers into different boxes. For example while you are most likely to be cut off by a superbike riding in pairs, you will never be cut off by a Harley Davidson. Harley bikers by their very nature will just cruise on the road and use the 3rd or 4th lanes. I don’t know how they are all able to do this; perhaps they receive emails from the riding club coordinating this mass synchronization or they are just too scared to ride in the fast lanes. Hey…I don’t know…and don’t wanna judge. However the bikes to really watch out for are the restaurant delivery bikes. These pose the biggest danger especially close to exits. They almost always change lanes without indication and can stop, turn and slowdown without warning.

Coming back to cars, the Audi TT is one you almost never have to be worried about. Ladies usually drive the TT and they love the smooth drive rather than the aggressive cutting off. If however you do see a guy driving an Audi TT, drive up to him; look, point and laugh because this is really a cute girls car and he has no business driving one. Don’t be mistaken though, the Audi TT is fast and quite awesome and can cut you off, but even a guy behind the wheel is not gonna make this car go out of character. Another girls car that never ever gives you cause for concern is the Volkswagen Beetle. The bright colors in which this car comes always matches the personality of the driver. These girls are driving their dream car and there is really nothing that’s gonna make them cut you off. Talking about Volkswagens, the Touareg no matter which colour it comes in is driven by responsible family men and women. They usually have a baby on board and will stick to lane 2, 3 and 4. It’s rare to find a Touareg in the fast lane.

When it comes to super premium cars, there is nothing more elegant on the road than the Rolls Royce. Its funny how I have almost never come across a Rolls driving down Sheikh Zayed Road on anything above 100kmph. Perhaps these cars are just such a pleasure to drive and their ownership itself is a statement and hence warrants no more risk taking or perhaps the EMI on these cars is so high, you just cannot afford a single speeding fine. For whatever reason, a Rolls will never bother you on the road. The one car you should however watch out for is the Bentley Continental GT. This two-door car is notorious for cutting people off on the road even when it is an elegant white. Talking about white cars however the vehicle that takes the cake when it comes to not just cutting you off but also threatening to run you over is the White Range Rover Sport. If you ever see an SUV filling up your rear view mirror, chances are it’s a White Range Rover Sport with a number plate that has 4 digits or less. In the same way, watch out for White BMW X6’s with 3 digit number plates or lower…they will come at you from the back and threaten to run you over if you don’t move. When it comes to beamers though, I have noticed that if you find someone driving a White BMW 3 Series, 4-door sedan, they are well behaved, but take off two doors and make it a BMW 3 Series Couple and it’s a whole new story.

The funny thing is that globally the color White reflects innocence and purity in general and when it comes to cars its believed that its the choice of status seeking extroverts. This is proven time and again with high-end white cars very often being the most noticeable for both the right and wrong reasons in Dubai. When it comes to the color white, I need to warn you about the Toyota HiAce. I am sure you are wondering what I am talking about. Well the HiAce is a van manufactured by Toyota and is very popular as a people carrier. This is a small van used to carry 9 or 10 people for one work site to another. The drivers of these vehicles are without exception dangerous. While they do not occupy the fast lanes, they are a menace in the slower lanes especially close to exits. They almost never use their indicators and will turn without notice. Strangely enough, larger vans that carry 20 people or more are usually very well behaved, so are larger busses that carry construction site employees.

Since I did mention the Toyota with the bad driving reputation, I think it is fair to point out that one of the safer cars on the road to be driving next to would be the Toyota Yaris Salon edition. If you can find a white one…even better. When it comes to other Japanese manufacturers…I’d watch out for a Nissan Sunny, but only…yup…ONLY if it’s a really really old model. For some reason people who drive them always seem to be in a hurry and seem to be seasoned users of the road and hence believe that turning indicators are old fashioned and out dated. I could be wrong as well, and it might not be a problem with the driver at all, perhaps the electronics in these old Sunny’s fail after a few years and the indicators just don’t work. For whatever reason…BEWARE!!! Among other Japanese manufacturers, Mazda would be the best behaved. Call me if you ever see a Mazda 6 cut someone off on the road. When it comes to Honda, the CRV is a car I love to drive close to knowing that its owners don’t make sudden, silly moves. If I were to plant a tree every time a Honda CRV, especially a white one cut me off, I’d be able to water all my trees with a small over priced bottle of Evian. Before we move on from Japanese cars I must say that a White Toyota Prado is as good as it gets. In fact you never really find people in Prados driving like they really need to get home quickly to use the loo. White Land Cruisers however always drive as though they needed to use the loo 30 minutes ago.

My two bit theory is however incomplete without a note on Dubai Taxis. When it comes to Taxis a lot of them aim to drive in the fast lanes to get from one place to another as soon as possible. Taxis are usually the worst offenders when it comes to not using indicators. But in their defense I must say they usually change lanes only when it’s safe. Airport taxis usually drive at the edge of the flashable speed limit because they have to return to the airport empty and are wasting time driving around without passengers. You will however never find a Ladies Special Cab flashing you from behind or cutting you off from the front. I was not considering featuring Volvo cars in this list of offender but I will put down the Volvo V70 in Dark Blue as one to watch out for. These are part of an airline’s fleet of cars used to ferry Business and First Class Passengers and are always in a hurry to get to where ever they are trying to get to.

I am sure there’s a lot more I can blog about when it comes to cars but I think I will call it a day. The thing is that, the cars we drive say a lot about the kind of people we are. This combined with the color of your car makes it easy to predict how you would drive on most days. There are limitations to this theory though, I know there are always exceptions and if you were offended by what I said or disagree with me, don’t worry yaar, you are the exception, everyone else is just like the way I said they are. One final note so that you don’t irritate me while you are driving slowly on Sheikh Zayed Road, stay off lanes one and two when you are driving slowly or driving the speed limit. Also stay off the slowest lane because that’s were you will get a lot of people taking exits and they will invariably cut you off. Take care, have fun and if you see a black muscle car flashing you from behind, move over, that me.

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