There are over 180 different nationalities in Dubai and all of them have different driving styles, habits and abilities. With no official highway code, a lot comes down to common sense. The following are all offenses but are all very common daily occurrences:
- Don’t drive below the speed limit in the far left-hand lane on a multi-lane highway
- Don’t drive close to the rear bumper of cars who are driving slowly in the far left-hand lane and refrain from flashing your lights or leaning on your horn
- Don’t change lanes suddenly
- Don’t forget to indicate when you are turning
- Don’t weave in and out of heavy traffic
- Don’t drive on the hard shoulder
- Don’t push in to queues of heavy traffic
- Don’t cut across moving traffic to reach an exit or leave a roundabout
- Don’t talk on your mobile phone, send text messages or read the newspaper while you are driving
- Don’t slow down and rubberneck if someone has had an accident
- Don’t make obscene hand gestures as this could see you spending time in jail or being deported
- Don’t drink and drive as Dubai has a zero tolerance for any alcohol in your blood
The UAE Community Blog (http://uaecommunity.blogspot.com) summarizes the traffic rules in Dubai as “Hold on and pray!” This is actually very good advice as it conveys the message that drivers in Dubai should be vigilant and drive defensively. You should be aware that Dubai has one of the highest road death tolls in the world. For those who regularly drive in Dubai, this news will come as no surprise.
The situation has improved somewhat as there are now digital speed cameras at 2 km intervals on all the major roads. These can pick up offenses from the obvious speeding to driving without a seat belt or talking on your mobile phone.
If you do have an accident, then you must go to the police to report it. If at all possible, pull over to the side of the road so that you are not obstructing traffic. If you cannot move one or more of the vehicles, or if there is a dispute between you and the other party, call the police on 999. A police car will soon arrive and most of the police speak enough English to deal with the problem. The police will want to see your car registration, your insurance policy and your driving license. You should have these with you at all times and failure to produce them may have serious repercussions.
If it is a minor accident, you should swap details with the other party before proceeding immediately to the nearest police station to file a report. If it is your fault, you will receive a pink slip. If it is not your fault, you will receive a green slip. You need this paper from the police to be able to have repairs done on your car or to make any insurance claims.
You can check to see if you, or anyone you know, has any fines by checking the fines section of the Dubai Police Traffic Website (http://www.dubaipolice.gov.ae/dp/english/e_services.jsp?Page=A344&dPg=1&isEng=true). These can be paid throughout the year or at the end of the year when you are renewing your car registration. If you have committed any serious traffic offenses, such as running a red light, your car will be impounded for a period of time, you will receive black points on your license, and you may even be put in prison. If you receive 24 black points in a one-year period, your license will be suspended for three months. If this happens again, you will lose your license for six months. If it happens a third time, your license will be taken away for one year and you will have to take a training course and pass a driving test before it will be reissued to you.
There is a shortage of parking spaces in some parts of the city, but resist the temptation to park in no parking zones or on the sidewalk even for a few minutes. You should also be careful not to overstay your time in paid parking areas. Patrols are frequent and the penalties can be severe. You may be given a hefty fine and your car may be towed away. If you park illegally and come back to find your car gone, you can contact 04 269 4848 to see if it has been towed.