Saturday, October 22, 2011

So that's why Dubai motorists drive like idiots

I haven't posted for a while because I have been doing the kind of writing that pays money instead. Part of that writing involved driving around in an inappropriately powerful car for a few days.

Here she is: The Infiniti M56S or Maureen as I liked to call her. I have been channeling my inner Clarkson again so while reading this, you can imagine the voice of the curly-haired, tight-jeaned one instead of my dead-pan librarian tones.

Compared to the Humvees, Landcruisers and other ginormous off-roaders that cruise down Dubai's perfectly smooth none SUV-needing highways, this car is actually pretty small fry but compared with my driving experiences of a Nissan Micra, a 15-year-old Vauxhall and 10-year-old VWs it was like being given KITT from Knight Rider.

I drove the Sand Warlock to and from work in the 5.6L engine shiny thing but I spared him the experience of clinging to the door in white-knuckled horror while I floored it on the roads out by the Meydan Racecourse during a little test drive.  The speed limit is 100km/ph and a lot of cars here (including Kevin the Toyota) are fitted with alarms that sound if you go above 120.  In Maureen, there is just a discreet flashing sign which is much less annoying for the discerning Kamikaze female motorist.  

It swoops up to 100km/ph without the slightest effort which brings me to the actual subject of this post.  This car is of similar style and levels of power to many on Dubai's roads and it goes really, really fast without you really noticing because of its stupidly powerful engine and noise reduction technology. Plus, it not only has parking sensors but lane sensors, driving too close sensors, and goodness knows what else.  Little lights flash at you if there's a vehicle in your blind sport and if you attempt to change lanes when there's a vehicle in your blind spot and there's a mechanism (which can be disabled) that will automatically steer you away if you attempt to drive towards said car in your blind spot, something which I am told is a world first.

The point being is that you don't have to blimmin' well know how to drive to drive it, something which seems to be very much the case for Dubai's motorists.  If you have a car that tells you "there's a vehicle in your blind spot so I'm stopping you manoeuvring, you pillock" what's the point of learning mirror, signal, check blind spot, manoeuvre?  And of course, you don't have the roar of a struggling engine to remind you that you've just cut up 15 people as you pulled out of a junction without looking at 90km/ph, so you're much less likely to be concerned by it because you've just left all the swearing, non-hand gesturing (because such things are illegal in the UAE) motorists/dying old ladies and desert animals whom you've cut up or killed in the dust. 

Needless to say, I felt myself turning into a tool as I merrily carved up inferior motors and refused to give way as people tried to overtake.  Him indoors will give testament to the fact that I actually uttered the phrase "I don't think so, b*tch," when someone tried to overtake me on the way to work one day. Oh, the shame. I had a few days to think about it and I started to think that other motorists were giving way more to me and generally showing me more, ahem, "respect" on the road due to my superior wheels.  But afterwards I realised they were doing nothing of the sort. It was just me driving more like a pillock than usual so they felt they had no choice to get out of the way whereas they would normally see me hesitate and cut me up first.

Mystery solved as to one of the many reasons why people drive so very badly in the UAE.  That and mobile phones. You will no doubt have heard the story that road accidents decreased dramatically while Blackberry services were out of action earlier this month.  Being on your mobile phone while driving is technically illegal in the UAE, you know.  I won't get started on the "technicallys" of Dubai again...

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