UAE: How driving slowly could put you in danger, lead to accidents

Although the first lane is to be kept free unless required, it is often used by UAE residents to consistently drive in the maximum permissible speed limit

By Husna Murad

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Published: Wed 20 Dec 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 20 Dec 2023, 11:06 PM

Driving slow is not always safe - when a car occupies the high speed lanes and does not give way to cars coming from behind, it can lead to a real problem.

According to Dubai Police, the first lane from the left is reserved for overtaking cars and for emergency respond vehicles. Although the first lane is to be kept free unless required, it is often used by UAE residents to consistently drive in the maximum permissible speed limit.

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Veteran instructors like Mohammed Asif advise drivers of the dangers of hogging the first lane. He told Khaleej Times: “Staying in the first lane of the road with your speed under the designated speed limit often leads to more chances of accidents than one would think.”

“People driving on 130kmph in the first two lanes on a 140kmph road don’t expect to brake suddenly to go under 100kmph. So forcing other people to drive according to your (slow) speed is irresponsible,” said Asif.

Fines have been implemented by the authorities to prevent slow driving on high speed roads. In April 2023, the Abu Dhabi Police took to X (formerly Twitter) to notify residents of a Dh400 fine for driving under 120kmph in the first two lanes of a 140kmph road. The fine took effect on the Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Road that connects Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

‘Not worth the fines’

Egyptian expat Basma, 34, was shocked when she was driving from Dubai to Abu Dhabi for the weekend and got notified of a fine she had received while in the first lane of a 140kmph speed assigned road.

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

“I wasn’t aware of the driving under 120kmph rule when I went to Abu Dhabi. I thought that the message was sent to the wrong person at first because I had only been fined for driving above the speed limit before that, never below,” said Basma.

Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority (RTA) and UAE authorities advise residents to constantly keep an eye on updates being issued across their channels for regulatory changes to prevent unintended breaking of the laws.

“You hear drivers fined for over speeding quite often but it makes sense that slow driving would be fined too since it could endanger drivers who aren’t expecting a sudden drop in speed. Deciding to not go with the speed of the road is definitely not worth the fine,” said Basma.

Never challenge the rules

The best practice for road safety for yourself and other cars is to drive according to the rules and conditions set for the road, said driving instructor Asif. He often advises his students to specifically never challenge the rules set for the maximum or minimum speed limit on the main roads or streets in residential areas.

“When on the road, we can’t always know the other driver’s thought process and cannot always judge their behaviour correctly. It is better to always give way to drivers requesting it,” said Asif.

The Abu Dhabi Police regularly posts road safety notices and warning videos on their social media for UAE residents. According to the authority, the minimum speed limit enforced on the Abu Dhabi highway was to increase the safety of all drivers and lower the chance of accidents.


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