Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Worth driving safely for?

As I have oft-repeated on this blog, driving like a lunatic escaping from a volcanic eruption is standard behaviour in Dubai, even for someone like me who has been variously described as a 'slow' or even 'pootling' during my driving history. Something happens to you when you move here and start driving. You have a slightly higher-powered car than you can afford in the UK because you feel the need to be able to drive more defensively and get the hell out of the way of some of the utter madmen (and women) that fill the roads here, and, because cars are VAT free and petrol is cheap. Before you know it, reversing up hard shoulders because you've taken a wrong turn, crossing five lanes without indicating, whistling through amber lights with a millisecond to spare and exceeding the speed limit with gay abandon on roads where you know there are no cameras become par for the course.

You start with good intentions to carry on driving as safely as you would in the UK, but on the 100th time you are carved up by some death-wish Mitsubishi driver on a dual carriageway, you give up, and start to  think: "Can't beat 'em, might as well join them. Everyone else drives as if their driving instructor was a cast member of The Dukes of Hazzard, so why shouldn't I?"

The end of July and August is a blessedly peaceful time on the roads in Dubai, and then, September heralds the return of a lot of drivers and the dreaded back to school means that the roads are once again filled with people who drive like zombies.

So, what better time for Dubai Police to resurrect their plans to have White Points for drivers who do not contravene traffic laws? This initiative has been kicking around for a while and was widely sneered at among the ex-pats I know when it emerged the first time. According to 7Days, drivers will accrue one white point for each month they do not commit any motoring offence, including Salik (road toll) violations and violations in other emirates. Kudos on the retro "points mean prizes" headline, by the way, 7Days.  

The points can then be cashed in to wipe away black points, pay off traffic fines that have no black marks attached, or even get your car back if it has been seized.
Here's the best bit, those who go five years without any violations could win shopping vouchers or even a new car. That's the most lovable thing about Dubai, isn't it? Fines and potential prison sentences for poor driving are just not enough, we need to bribe our drivers with hold hard cash to not drive like lunatics.
I hate to say it, but I can't see it influencing the way people drive here. The offer of a new car sounds great in theory, but just one violation, going over the speed limit from an 80km per hour zone for example, wipes out your chances of getting it for five years, and more importantly, most people, the majority in Dubai are ex-pats, remember? They are more than likely to have left the country by the time their five years of clean driving anniversary comes around.
In fairness, the driving is so bad here, with car accidents the main cause of child death in the UAE, they have to try something. Maybe it will work. Maybe we will start to see people slowing the hell down, looking before they pull out of junctions, not jumping red lights or carving you up without looking up from their Blackberrys, let alone checking their mirrors, all the while gripping their steering wheels in a perpetual state of alert, dreaming of the shopping voucher or the new car, or, not having to shell out quite as many thousands of dirhams in speeding fines as they thought, but I doubt it.

1 comment:

  1. Suggestion given by Peter Patrick is good but, it can not work 100% due to children are very advanced now and don't want to listen anyone.

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