How to stay safe on UAE roads: The ultimate guide to defensive driving

Each year nearly 1.35 million people are killed in road accidents across the world. Learn the basics of Defensive Driving to keep yourself and others safe on UAE roads.


Team KT

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Published: Fri 31 Mar 2023, 3:31 PM

Last updated: Fri 31 Mar 2023, 10:18 PM

The freedom that comes with being able to drive a car is unparalleled. It allows you mobility and makes you independent. However, the flip side of this freedom is the sheer number of road accidents that take place in the UAE yearly.

Defensive driving is a set of safe driving practices that are designed to help drivers avoid accidents and protect themselves and their passengers on the road. What one must remember while driving is that even if you are at the top of your game, other drivers on the road might not always be so. Defensive driving involves anticipating and responding to potential hazards and making proactive decisions that reduce the risk of collisions. It makes you prepared for both yourself and for others on the road, thus reducing the risk of accidents.

Some tips on Defensive Driving

The 2-second gap

Always maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front of you. When driving on the highway or in traffic, it's important to keep a distance of at least 2 seconds between your vehicle and the one in front of you. This provides a safety cushion around your car and gives you enough time to react if the other driver suddenly brakes or makes a sudden turn.

Scan the road

Always be on the lookout ahead and around your vehicle to identify potential hazards such as for pedestrians, cyclists, children and other vehicles.

Be aware of your car’s blind spots

Image credits: Aceable
Image credits: Aceable

Typically, a car has 4 blind spots:

•Front mirror blind spot

•Wing mirror blind spot

•Rear side blind spot

•A-pillar blind spot

Even though modern vehicles come with backup cameras and advanced mirrors, it is still necessary to be aware of your blind spots so you can use your mirrors to monitor the movement of other vehicles.

Be aware of changing weather conditions

The UAE can experience extreme temperatures and weather conditions, so it’s important to be aware of the weather when driving. For example, during rainy weather, you may need to reduce your speed and increase the following distance to account for decreased visibility and slippery roads. While driving in fog, make sure to take the necessary precautions like switching on your fog lights, not changing lanes unnecessarily, and putting on dipped lights so as to avoid dazzling the oncoming traffic.

Also know how to manage speed according to the weather and road conditions. For example, the average speed limit to be followed in fog, as advised by the Abu Dhabi Police, is 80 km/hour and not more.

Be aware of your surroundings

This means watching for other drivers who may be distracted, impaired, or otherwise driving unsafely. By recognising potential hazards, you can take steps to avoid them and protect yourself and your passengers. Also keep an eye out for the areas in which you’re driving. In the UAE, there are designated school and residential zones where your speed should not exceed 40km/hour.

Be prepared for emergencies

Before driving a vehicle, make sure that it’s equipped with an emergency kit that includes a first aid kit, including a seatbelt cutter, water, a flashlight with batteries, duct tape, and a spare tire. It’s also extremely important to get a crash course on how to change tires, respond in the event of an accident or car breakdown, perform basic first aid and know the necessary emergency numbers – 999 for the Police, 998 for Ambulance, and 997 for the Fire Department in the UAE.

Avoid all distractions

While driving, it is extremely crucial to always keep your eyes on the road. Without fail, avoid any and all distractions while driving. A fine worth Dh 800 and 4 black points will be imposed on motorists for using phones, eating, fixing make-up, smoking, etc., while driving. Completely refrain from driving if you are under the influence of alcohol or medicines or are fatigued. If you feel like you need a break from driving, stop the car in a permissible area and get that rest. Remember, you can get a second appointment, you cannot get a second life.

Ultimately, defensive driving is about taking responsibility for your own safety on the road. By following these principles and strategies, you can reduce your risk of accidents and ensure that you and your passengers arrive at your destination safely.

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