The infrastructure is excellent in Dubai and improvements are constantly being made to the road network to accommodate the everincreasing volume of traffic.
For example, the Business Bay Crossing, a 13-lane bridge at Ras Al Khor linking Bur Dubai with Dubai Festival City and Dubai International Airport, opened in 2007 and the new Al Garhoud Bridge opened in 2008 providing an additional 14 lanes for traffic to cross Dubai Creek. A 6-lane floating bridge also links Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and Deira City Centre, with Oud Metha Road in Bur Dubai. There are now a total of 46 lanes crossing the Creek at 5 different crossing points and there are three further bridges under construction which, when completed in 2012, will provide a further 36 lanes.
Whilst roads are excellent, the driving habits of some of the people using them leave a lot to be desired. This is only to be expected when there are so many people from different countries, and hugely diverse cultures and driving experiences, on the roads at the same time. Without wishing to sound like a scaremonger, it seems that certain drivers learned their driving skills from a couple of hours in front of a Play Station game. The speed limits are 40kph in built-up areas, 70 or 80kph on main roads and increase to either 100 or 120kph on major highways. If you intend driving out of Dubai to more remote areas, take care of camels wandering on to the road in isolated areas. If you are found to be speeding or the accident is deemed to be your fault you may have to pay compensation to the camel’s owner, which may be costly. No, I am not joking!
Stick to some ‘Golden Rules’ for driving safely
- Don’t forget, drive on the right hand side of the road and if you are a particularly nervous driver, don’t do it, get a cab instead!
- The only way to approach driving here is to drive alertly and defensively at all times and allow yourself the necessary time to adjust to different driving techniques.
- Always ensure that everyone in your vehicle is wearing a seat belt.
- If the driver behind flashes you or starts to ‘tailgate’, move over and let him past, but always check the inside lane first - someone may be ‘undertaking’ at the same time.
- Although ‘undertaking’ is an offence it is common practise here. Always look over your right shoulder before changing lane and be aware that some drivers will drive on the hard shoulder to overtake and undertake.
- Don’t be surprised if someone suddenly accelerates from the fast lane to the slip road in a split second cutting up 4 lanes of traffic in the process.
- Always remember that indicators are considered a fashion accessory. Don’t expect anyone to give you a clue of what they intend to do.
- It is fairly obvious that some drivers have extremely limited knowledge of what to do at a roundabout and do not have a clue about correct lane positioning when approaching or in the roundabout itself. Always take extra care at roundabouts and never assume that if someone is positioned to turn right that they will do so, they are just as likely to circumnavigate the roundabout or turn left.
- If someone in front of you is driving erratically it will almost certainly be due to the fact that they are reading map directions, sending a text message and balancing an infant on their lap all at the same time. Don’t worry you’ll get used to it!
- Road rage doesn’t exist here, however do not be tempted to shout abuse at, or bestow upon anyone any form of ‘hand signal’. This is a criminal offence in the UAE and you may well find yourself being reported to the police.
- If you are unlucky enough to have any form of accident, and your vehicle is not blocking traffic you are required by law to leave the vehicle where it is and call the Police. You must wait for the Police to report the accident before leaving the scene. If there are no injuries to either party and the vehicle is causing congestion, the vehicle may be moved to the side of the road to facilitate traffic progress if both parties agree who is to blame for the accident.
- If your vehicle is pulled over by the police you will be expected to get out of the vehicle and approach the police vehicle rather than remaining in your car whilst the officer comes to you.
- Always bear in mind that the interior of vehicles can become very hot, very quickly here - and not just in the summer months. If you are leaving children or pets in the car for just a brief minute or two please remember that they are there and if you have switched off the engine that the air-conditioning will not be working to keep them cool.
- Zebra Crossings are becoming a more familiar sight in Dubai. However don’t assume that if you step on to one that all approaching traffic will come to an abrupt stop to allow you across the road, because it won’t happen.
- Always take care when crossing the road and if in any doubt always think ‘safety first’ and wait until the coast is clear.