The unwritten rules of driving

Dubai - We explore some of the subtler motoring laws that are beyond the rulebook

By George Kuruvilla

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Published: Thu 11 Nov 2021, 7:17 PM

Honking excessively at cafeteria fronts! Surely you must have come across a few individuals who sound the horn of their car for experiencing the slightest delay in being served their one-dirham kadak chai. As annoying as it is for bystanders, somehow it has come to be accepted. But it shouldn’t be! There are several other acts and habits that resident drivers have adopted that are infuriating, unethical and could even be considered illegal in some cases. Let’s take a look at some of the rules, fashioned by reason and compassion, that are beyond the rulebook and need to be upheld.

Highway etiquette

One commonly observed grievance is facing oncoming traffic, vehicles that have their headlamps switched to high beam. The blinding effect and disorientation it may cause, although temporary, aren’t things you don’t want to experience when you are piloting a two-ton chunk of steel. And on the other hand, you also have those who think that driving with only fog lamps switched on is cool in the night. Both aren’t acceptable. Always switch on your headlamps in low light conditions and activate high beam only when necessary.

Hogging the fast lane and not giving way to fast-moving traffic coming behind you is the other thing you want to avoid. Some drivers are oblivious to the flashing lights of even emergency service vehicles like patrolling police cars, ambulances and fire engines too. Don’t be that guy… or girl! At the very least, give way when the vehicle behind flashes its headlamps even if you are maintaining the speed limit. Also, cutting into a faster lane at a pace that is slower than lane traffic… just doesn’t cut it either.

Tailgating has turned it into a bit of a sport here. And no one needs a reminder that it can have detrimental consequences, often involving multiple vehicles and even loss of life. Always allow safe distance between you and the car ahead!

The SZR or Sheikh Zayed Road has been one of the busiest highways on the planet. With a record number of accidents being recorded daily, it certainly is a beast. Slowing down at an accident scene and causing further delays and even more accidents is yet another dangerous phenomenon that UAE motorists have to deal with. Accidents are unfortunate, but regardless of how emphatic a scene it may be, judging by the fire, smoke or number or emergency vehicles, drive on and let the concerned authorities do their job.

It is important to know that motorcyclists and cyclists are just like you, humans who are travelling to office or to meet their friends and family. They are not some props to test the effects of wind on. It is important to give our two-wheeler friends a safe space to ride.

Braking etiquette

Another dubious driving act is brake checking. For those who don’t know what it is, let me explain… it is when the driver of the car ahead of you taps the brakes without any obvious reason, often using it as a scare tactic. If you’re in the habit of doing so, we recommend you mend your ways.

Stopping further across the line at a traffic signal, encroaching on pedestrian space is also to be avoided. Driving on public roads is not a race and there is no finish line, unless you consider getting home safely. Always give some space between your bumper and those who walk across the tarmac.

There is an itch among drivers who don’t want to allow pedestrians to cross. Some drivers instead of braking, open up the throttle as soon as they see pedestrians getting close to the crossing. Exercise some compassion, let the walkers walk, especially during the summer months.

Parking etiquette

Stealing parking spots from drivers that are waiting patiently, by simply squeezing into the slot quickly and stealthily, is a common sight. And physically, and by that, I mean by using one’s own human body, to hold parking spaces for a friend or family member, while not letting rightful drivers to occupy the spot is yet another ludicrous act that must end. We live in a world where there is space for all of us. Let’s not jump the queue and take what is not ours.

Walking casually behind a reversing car. Yes, it is the driver’s responsibility to check if the rear is clear, but as an individual living in a supposedly modern and advanced society, we ought to let them reverse in peace.

Racing along the columns of large basement parking lots to test the decibel levels of one vehicle’s exhaust is on the do-not list. This is a high-risk zone and should be treated as one.

Parking in two spots is amongst the most condemned driving acts one can commit. According to the internet, this is a trait of the drivers of a certain specific German luxury brand, but in reality, we’ve seen others do it too. Depriving another of a spot does not come under one’s right as a motorist. Parking at an awkward angle, making it difficult for drivers of neighbouring vehicles to get into their vehicles isn’t a trivial matter either. Stick within the lines and keep it parallel.

As long as we are residents of this beautiful country we must abide by the laws of the land. By exercising greater discretion and compassion for fellow motorists and pedestrians we can together make our driving lives a lot more efficient and stress-free.

And to conclude, while this has little to do with your driving itself, do society a favour and tip the car wash guy and the gas station attendant. These are the folk that help keep the motoring public going and it is time to return the favour.

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