My thoughts on UAE drivers are well known. After driving here for almost a year, I thought I understood everything.
I am no longer surprised when people park in the middle of the street, or at a stop sign, or on the sidewalk, or in front of a gate. I’m not even surprised when people park in front of my car blocking me in and then getting mad at me when I want to get out of my parking spot. I no longer freak out when people try to mow me down at 100 miles/hour because they think my modest 70 mph is not fast enough.
However, I’ve noticed that whenever I get on the highway to Dubai, some crazy driver will chase me at high speed, waving frantically, and indicate that I pull over. I’m a big city person, I don’t pull over for anyone! On several occasions after experiencing this crazy behavior, I pulled into gas stations to see if there was something unusual about my car, but never noticed anything. Then after one persistent local man, on the verge of an apoplectic seizure, scared me half to death and practically threatened to push me off the road, I figured it out.
My car has daytime running lights!
I guess they think that I’ve turned on my headlights by mistake or something. People, they are called
“daytime running lights”; they are supposed to be on during the day. In fact they are mandatory in some countries. I’m not some flaky girl who doesn’t know how to drive her car. I wonder if these crazy drivers think that I’m wearing out my headlights and are simply trying to save me money. It’s actually quite thoughtful in this land of bling. Could it be that even crazy drivers have a pet peeve and I happen to push their buttons as I drive around blissfully oblivious of the anxiety that I cause them? I don’t know, but now every time someone freaks out over my car, I give them a blank stare (as I laugh out loud inside). Funnily, they don’t seem to freak out when someone drives around in low light with their headlights off. Hmm, I wonder which scenario is more dangerous?
OK, another interesting traffic quirk here. In most places when a police car or any other emergency vehicle comes up behind you with lights flashing, a driver would pull over, right? Not on the streets of Abu Dhabi. In the last month, I’ve witnessed police cars on Al Khaleej Al Arabi (street 30) forced to negotiate their way through traffic as drivers doggedly try to outrun them. From what I have observed, the police are simply trying to get somewhere (an emergency ostensibly), but the drivers do not budge or simply speed up daring the police to pass them. If you’re thinking it’s because traffic is really heavy and they can’t pull over, you would be wrong. Each time I’ve witnessed this scenario, there has been plenty of space to move over or at least switch to another lane. The only explanation I have is that people really see the “fast lane” as their personal turf and they’ll be damned if they are going to give it up for anyone, not even the po-po. Gotta love it!
Personally, I come from the land of the “we’ll ticket you for even thinking about going above 40 mph” so I pull over and pray that the fuss isn’t about trying to give me a speeding ticket.