16. Lanes

A potential issue I see arising with the blog is – despite the matters popularity – that it does bark on a lot about general road usage and driving etiquette.  Some of my readers from across the globe may wonder what on earth is going on over here on the black rivers that makes it such a popular talking point.  It’s definitely a case of “you have to see it to believe it”.

Every now and again we read in the UAE national media that road accidents and fatalities are on a downward spiral, and that’s a good thing, bravo Police, bravo.  However, you are never going to eradicate all of the nonsense and I fear that until the real issue is tackled we will continue to see missing bits of guardrail and lots more rubber 11’s.

So what is the key issue?  What is the cause of the vast majority of road accidents in the UAE?  Is it speeding?  Nope.  Is it drug-fuelled drivers?  Surprisingly not.  Is it people driving the wrong way on the road?  No, guess again.  Give up?  It’s lane abuse.  That’s it; people are incapable of using the correct lane.

A couple of days ago I had to drive over to Abu Dhabi from Al Ain to stand in the sun all day and shout.  My shouting began in earnest as I approached a banged up Toyota Hilux from the aft.  I was in the right lane aka the ‘slow’ lane.  Argue as much as you like but this is the correct one to be in.  To fully comply with the law I was also travelling at the speed limit.  So to recap, I am driving at the limit in the correct lane…

In the middle lane this Hilux-ist was travelling well under the limit…at a guess I would say 80kph.  Anyway I decided that I would continue with my trajectory and not switch lanes.  As it turns out that was a poor choice.  Mr. Hilux man decided he would join me in my lane so without indicating – obviously – began to swerve towards me.  I sounded the horn and slammed on the anchors as he went darting off in the opposite direction wondering what was going on.  I was angry.

Weapon of choice in curbing lane lawlessness. Gatling gun optional

Once my rage had subsided I began to think.  Who was in the wrong?  What if we had collided, who would the old Bill accuse of being the perpetrator?  I mean was it me?  Was I undertaking?  I was in the correct lane at the limit not doing anything wrong.  It’s not my fault if the imbecile on my left was 40kph under the limit in the wrong lane.  But the fact would remain that I was undertaking another car and he was simply cruising in the middle…  A definite brain-teaser.

Whilst you have a quick think about that the rest of us will do some brainstorming.  In an ideal world if I were to find such a lawless driver with all the road courtesy of a cabbage I would fire him off the road into the desert, but since we’re trying to bring road accidents down we need to leave the automotive pugilism to one side.  Do we line up next to a lane straying car and ‘kettle’ them into the correct lane before doffing our cap and saying “don’t mention it chap, just here to help”?  I fear not.

We are powerless to educate these scamps and firing bullets and setting them on fire won’t help.  I was going to suggest just giving them some room, but after close observation a better method has presented itself.  It appears you are best off tailgating Mr. Hilux very closely and flashing your headlights repeatedly to intimidate him.  If he fails to move over then sound the horn continuously as you flail your hands and then overtake him on the outside shoulder at break-neck speed, whilst shouting…loudly.

This seems to work very well for the Land Cruisers…


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