Rains in UAE: Why traffic jams are heavier than usual and what you can do to avoid them

The National Centre of Meteorology has reported heavy rains, thunderstorms and hail in several parts of the country, forecast to persist tomorrow as well


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Wed 25 Jan 2023, 3:51 PM

Last updated: Wed 25 Jan 2023, 4:09 PM

As heavy rains hit all seven Emirates on Wednesday, motorists across the UAE reported being stuck in traffic jams. Police forces around the country have called on drivers to be extremely vigilant on the roads.

A road safety expert explained why traffic jams get worse during the rains. “When rain begins to fall, it mixes with the dust, grease and sand to make the roads extremely slippery. Drivers have to be extremely careful and drive slowly,” Thomas Edelman, managing director of Road Safety UAE, said.

The National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) reported heavy rains, thunderstorms and hail in several parts of the country. The unstable weather conditions are forecast to persist tomorrow as well.

The visibility factor

According to Edelman, one of the most contributing factors to traffic problems during unstable weather is the poor visibility.

“Whether it is rain, hail, fog or sandstorm, the one common denominator is the bad visibility,” he said. “Drivers have to adjust their attention based on this. They must slow down so that they have enough time and space to react in case of unexpected incidents on the road.”

Major-General Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, director of the General Department of Traffic at the Dubai Police, advised motorists to turn on low-beam headlights when visibility is reduced.

He also urged motorists to keep a sufficient, safe distance between vehicles, fasten seat belts, pay attention to the road and refrain from taking pictures or using handheld phones when driving.

Mohammed Sajjad, an avid rain chaser, said most of the accidents he has encountered during the rain were caused due to poor visibility. “Water is accumulated on the roads due to rain,” he said. “Due to limited visibility, the driver may not see the water and the vehicle slips. This is a major issue during the rainy weather. I advise all those who are driving in rainy conditions to slow down and drive carefully.”


Edelman also cautioned residents to be careful about aquaplaning. This is a phenomenon where water is built up between the tyre and road surface due to high speeds during rainy weather. It causes the tyre to lose contact with the road and the driver will no longer be able to control the vehicle with the steering wheel.

“This is an extremely dangerous situation and can cause very severe accidents,” he said. “It is one of the main reasons why drivers must slow down during the rainy weather.”

Tips to drive safely

The Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah Police forces issued safety tips to follow while driving. Edelman also added a few of his own:

  • Review weather forecasts and reports through accredited media and competent authorities in the country to avoid dangerous traffic accidents.
  • Concentrate and do not get distracted by other passengers, your phone or other things
  • Double the safety distance between you and the vehicle ahead. Increase the distance from the 3 seconds in good weather to a minimum of 5.
  • Ensure your vehicles are in good condition and check the tyres, brakes, windshield wipers, and lights before a trip.
  • Turn on the lights: low beam head lights, front and rear fog lights (avoid hazard lights)
  • Consider longer braking distances due to wet or slippery road surfaces
  • Use your windscreen wipers properly, and use your heater and A/C to avoid fogging of the wind screen.
  • Stay in your lane and don’t drift – there’s a natural tendency to wander into the middle of the road when visibility gets bad.


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