Sunday, 25 April 2010

Calling all cops

First of all let me congratulate Dubai Police on their excellent results at the Dubai Government Excellence Awards 2010.

If you remember, it wasn't long ago since I last ranted about driving in the UAE and specifically Dubai. Specifically from Sept 2009:

This is when I listed the top 20 things that the stupid/crazy UAE drivers tend to do when behind the wheel of a car.

More recently, from Jan 2010 I wrote this post:

The topic is pretty straight-forward, it's all about lane-discipline.

So after more than a year since my return to Dubai, I'm still suffering from the f***ing idiots on our roads. They come in all shapes and sizes (fat and thin) and (Nissan Armadas to Nissan Sunnies), as well as slow and fast, left and right lanes, up or down a bridge, and driving pretty much in anyway they like.

We unfortunately had an assasination here in Dubai of a Hamas leader, not the most peaceful group, but since when has Dubai become the playground of thugs so openly? Our Police really does an amazing job going after the killers and of course liaising with Interpol etc..

They also do an amazing job keeping us safe in our homes, streets (pedestrian only), offices and airports.. Seriously, I have no criticisms on that front, and can safely say that Dubai probably is one of the safest cities in the world.

Now, my issue is this: The police spends a lot of time, effort and money to do the all the right things but with the wrong priority. Ok, it's great that we're going to go and put the Mossad chief in prison, and to liberate Palestine, and so on, but why not do all that after you've improved the situation on the road.

Sorry, but by giving stupid black points and rediculously expensive fines to motorists left right and centre you are not improving the situation and that cannot be considered good Police work. I'm sorry, but it just is not the case.

Both my parents have got black points on their licenses and they are probably one of the safest drivers that I know. All of this happened in 2010. Their driving attitudes and styles did not increase this year, nor have they had any accidents since they been both driving that was their fault. Dad had an accident where his car was totalled but that was more than 15 years ago by a guy with an Omani car and no license or insurance. So why is the Police penalising people that are at no risk to the public?

As a younger male driver, I am statistically more dangerous, and yet I have less black points than either parent! My felony was to use the 4x4 capabilites of my car and to drive in the sand to avoid the congestion due to a traffic accident ahead, probably caused by bad lane-discipline.

So the issue is this, from the zillions of Dirhams made from fines, why doesn't the Police spend some money to work on lane-discipline? I believe if we observe the right lane discipline we will benifit with:

1- Better safety. If you are slow, stay right, and if you're overtaking then go left. Never leave the lane to your right empty, and if it is then move into it. If everyone knows exactly which lane he/she should be in, then it's only normal for accidents to be reduced.

2- Higher road capacity. When you look at motorways in a civilised driving country like the UK, you'll notice the slow lane has the most wear and tear to it, because it's got the most traffic on it (including trucks). However, here the most utilised lane is the 2nd lane from the fastest, because everyone seems to think it's their lane. If you're a complete idiot, then you'd "park" in the fastest lane and not care about people behind you. This leads to huge inefficiency in the utilisation of the road. My humble estimate is that if we observe proper lane discipline then we can easly increase the road capacity by 30-40% without any changes to the road (thus no cost). All this by changing our driving attitute.

3- Predictability of driving leads to less road rage. Less road rage means less accidents and of course less speeding. But wait a minute, less speeding is bad if you get more than 600 million dirhams annually from fines (zawya) which is approx 15% of the Police's annual budget, and an even higher percentage of its undesclosed revenues.

I can go on and on, but we cannot continue to drive to be an international city with open borders and expect people to want to live here if we cannot get simple things right. Dubai has an amazing will to succeed and can do anything if it puts its mind into things. Who would have thought Dubai can build 3 terminals in less time it takes London to build one (T5 Heathrow = 19 years, wiki)?? Dubai famously built extensively into the sea and built the tallest building in the world. Given the current economic climate, it seems that's a title that Burj Khalifa (formerly Burj Dubai) will have for a long time to come. Dubai also designed and built a world-class metro system in under 5 years. Other countries take 10-15 years for FAST projects.

Why can't we get our brains together to fix the situation on our roads. After all I believe Dubai's roads are probably the best in the Gulf and the Arab World even, and more fun to drive in that the roads I been on in England for sure, but not Wales!

So please Dubai Police, please, please, do something about lane-discipline!


Seabee said...

I didn't know until I read it a couple of days ago here that only 800 of the total 20,000 police are traffic police.

We obviously need many more.

But I think the real problem with the lane indiscipline you're complaining about is that many (most?) drivers genuinely know nothing about it. Even in Australia I have not met any driver who trained there who was told anything about lane driving.

We need an ongoing extensive education programme in multi languages about all the rules and laws (lane discipline, what the hard shoulder is for, pedestrian crossings, seat belts, child seats etc etc) because it's all so alien to many drivers. In their own countries these rules are simply unknown or universally ignored.

Tainted Female said...

"(...)sand to avoid the congestion due to a traffic accident ahead, probably caused by bad lane-discipline."

I so laughed out loud at this line..! Not having to deal with the traffic in Dubai is one of the things I'm most thankful, I'm away from. I can still feel the stress it caused me - and that's just thinking about it on the other side of the planet. :( I'm sorry nothing's changed!

hemlock said...

buj, the times i can feel a strong case of road rage developing is when three cars decide to drive parallel to each other in three lanes. ALL doing the same speed.

it's like - you A$$H0L3S! you are all driving at 60! can you please get one behind the other in a line? but no... they need to be spread out like a peacock's feathers - blocking traffic behind them...

(and then they complain about tailgaters...)


another thing that bugs me is people with "baby-on-board" stickers in the fast lane.

your baby. your decision. move out of the fast lane. dont tell me to feel sorry for you because you were too stupid to understand the concept of family planning.

Dave said...

This is such an emotive issue but I definately agree there is a lack of training in this area.

BuJ said...

oh shit.. only 800 frigging coppers...

assuming dubai is approx 40x30km = 1200km2 that's:

1200/800= about a cop per 2km squared!!!!!!!!!

knowing that cops travel in pairs, there are probably 400 police cars (even though the whole 8xxx A number plate range is reserved to them, or is it 8xxx B?)

thus only a car per 4km2

oh.. not good!

ur right seabee that people here just dunno about lane discipline. but who's to blame? i think it has to be the police coz they examine you to give you the license in the first place.. now it's with the RTA.. same thing, government. they need to own up to this.

however it's not all ignorance, coz the fuckers know that the fast lane is for speeding. but they dunno the hierarchy of speeding or lane discipline at all.

BuJ said...

glad i made u laugh Tainted!

Hemlock.. this sux.. btw, i laughed hard when i read the bit about family planning... ur right

but the disaster drivers are those fucking goats that have arabic writing on their cars like (God be with you) or other rubbish that proves their ignorance and blames everything on others (mainly Allah)

Dave, i think people need to be trained about lane discipline before they can renew or apply for a new license.

it'll be a requirement like the eye test.

hemlock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hemlock said...

buj, call me anal, but since we are talking about traffic police (800) and not the total number of police on the roads (20,000), it wouldve been a better measure had you used the length of roads as opposed to dubai's total area.

uae interact's 2001 report says:
The total length of roads in Dubai's urban limits was 2,312 kilometres in 2001 and this has been growing at the rate of six percent

of course these figures are ten years old, and the speed of development since 2005 must have quadrupled at least.

nonetheless, if we go by these numbers with a 6%p.a. growth, in 2010 you have a road network of 3906km. round that off to 4000km because i like round numbers.

which gives you 4000km/(800/2)= 1 cop car every 10 kms of road.

except i count around 8-10 cars on beach road alone, so we know one road is being subsidized at the cost of another.

additionally, i prefer to make excel sheets for absolutely random and totally useless facts.
makes me feel important.

Inspire Your Mind said...

To me, mind the trafic, but the road situation has improved dramatically since I left the country about 7 years ago..

If I'm not speeding and following rules; it means a system in is order that is controlling my 'speed tantrums' ;)

rosh said...

^^ And there you have it BuJ - the 'final' say! :) Nice to read you IYM.


"We need an ongoing extensive education program in multi languages about all the rules and laws"

I was thinking more of the subtle electric 'shock & awe' treatment every time someone even THINKS of cutting in, fail to signal, snail or stroll on the fast lane or speed on the slow lane, the whole 9yards! I mean, most folks go through decent education /training and difficulty to have a UAE driver's license. Hence I' not sure if more of the same shall change the crazies on the highways.

BuJ, easy on the Math, please / mercy. Gracias.

BuJ said...

Hemlock, I have to commend you on your "anality"!!! indeed you're right and it's better to use linear dimensions rather than 2D.

the reason i used area was because i came across the urban area of dubai through my work yesterday so i made that comment.. however i have to admit since a patrol car can only go in one direction at a time then linear units are better.

however one can argue that from one street, you can patrol several .. etc.. so maybe area is better hahaha

but if you go by the average.. one cop per 10km is not too bad, no?

so in my commute, i should encounter about 1.8 cops a trip, or about 3.6 cops a day.. yay!

however, sadly, i meet much more than that, because these gerbils live on the shaded white/yellow lines waiting for a car to cross the line (literally) in order to hit them with a "lane disciplne" ticket and 2 points. TURNIPS!

however, i'd imagine more cops are needed in sensitive areas and downtown areas, so it means residential areas and so on might get a cop every 20km or so.. or even more.. that's definitely not good.. are u sure 800 cops is accurate? i'll ask around, but if u know someone, then please!

welcome IYM and Rosh! good to see u back.

Inspire Your Mind said...


I guess I can't escape blogging.. need an outlet.. especially with the super aliens at work

hemlock said...

hmm. buj, i was going with the numbers you had used.

just read seabee's link - which says now all of 20,000 coppers can issue traffic fines. (which translates into 1 cop car every 400 meters).

i have mixed feelings about that.

having police cars patrolling significantly slows down traffic.

since beach road is my primary road for getting from A-B, ive noticed very often that when people see a shurta on the road, they slow down for no-f*cking-reason.

the speed limit is 70kmph + 20kmph margin - and these guys wont go above 50. there's a 40kmph difference between what they are doing, and what they are supposed to be doing.

which results in people either having to undertake, or signal the moron out of the way (which is completely legal since they are not maintaining speed and are blocking traffic).

rosh: the behaviours you've listed may be aggressive driving, or reactionary to certain types of drivers on the road. in which case i think penalty should lie with the instigators.

Stained said...

A lot of people over here don't understand the road network. They seem to know the route they take everyday to work or something else but if you ask them to go to another part of the city, they're completely confused and lost. And I think this is a huge issue cause these are the same people who drive slow, change lanes abruptly and generally are a pain cause they're busy trying to figure out how to get to their destination. Among this crowd of lost drivers, you get the people who don't give a shit about the rules cause either they're reckless or rich and drive like the own the road stomping over various corollas and Tiidas who freak out possibly causing an accident...

So this is more of an infrastructure problem that they need to look into. The constant changes in the roads even knocks me out sometimes even though I know this city quite well.

That does not mean the police does not have to step up its efforts. I'd like to see more of them patrolling areas instead of standing on signals. I'd also like to see more dividers to make sure people don't try to jump the line.

And personally I don't mind the idiots who forgets to indicate while changing lanes but its the drifters I really hate who are busy on the mobile or with make up or something else. They annoy the hell out me...

BuJ said...

IYM, i call my co-workers = gerbils

i don't do any work with them, but rather i call them co-workers because we share the same building.

the same way i shared the same building with the rats we had a problem with until they all got killed.

hemlock i see what u mean.. i think we can extend the "gerbil" definition to patrolling cops.

the other gerbil-cops i hate are those purely hired for their eyesight, who stand at bottlenecks only to fucking note down the number plates of cars trying to squeeze through.

what is the result?
1- queue increases in length from 300m to 800 m

2- 800m long queue starts to block the junction before it, which starts to have queues there before there were none.

3- traffic moves slower because everyone is scared of the fucking gerbil and because now they are forced to merge sooner rather than later.


personally, i believe instead of penalising drivers, the cops should coordinate with the RTA to redesign these bottlenecks and add an extra lane to ease the issue.

extra lane = 3.5 m wide
plus a few days work for a competent contractor
cost is around 100,000 dhs.. small peanuts in the bigger scheme of things

u waste at least twice that amount of petrol money for dubai drivers waiting to merge.


BuJ said...

stained, i COMPLETELY agree with you.. in fact i couldn't have written it better.

i'm really tempted to find the supreme commander the next time we have those government meetings or big weddings and have a 2 min chat with him about my ideas.. i won't point him towards my blog, coz he'll shut it down somehow due to the large number of youtubes on it

and u all know how he feels about youtube!

a shift in attitude is needed.. a license is a responsibility not just a right!

hemlock said...

buj, you kinda opened a pandora's box by writing this post.
the worst part for me being in UAE is the idiots on the road, but ive made peace with it - and since im mostly travelling against traffic.
but seriously, 17 comments? heh.

im replying because... listen up mister. if you are the dude who cuts in front of me, im going to rip off your fender, and then call the cops on you.

i dont tailgate (*angel face*) but i can sympathise with people who do *cough cough*.
the driver in front is the asshole for blocking traffic.

but when a poor soul has been in an 800m line that is barely inching forward and a smartass cuts in - makes me feel like an idiot for being a law-abiding citizen.

this dude's time is no more important than mine. khallas. there's a line. get in the back of it. =P or get 4 black points.

BuJ said...

hemlock, technically speaking it was 16 comments + 1 draft when you wrote your comment :p

ok, maybe i need to be more clear in the way i communicate here.. so let me explain.

i believe that in the case there is a bottleneck (e.g. 2 lanes into one), that they should merge at the last possible moment in a zipper pattern (one from the left and one from the right, left, right, left etc), as this will mean that maximum tarmac will be used and the most number of cars will pass through the bottle neck.

so there is no need to merge the traffic 800 m BEFORE the bottleneck just coz a stupid ass copper is standing on the street.

you can merge nearer to the bottleneck and still drive in a safe and POLITE way.

now, the idiot coppers in dubai do not get this point at all. and i find it infuriating since it should be THEM that teach us about driving and not vice versa.

its like being in a prison where the guards are more criminal than the inmates.

once i had to take an exit and i was physically in the leftmost lane, and i indicated right and picked a gap BEFORE the line turned solid.. but the copper still gave me a fine? why? because he can.. and because its his gay word against mine.

i'm not a big fan of breaking the law and i believe the law is above everyone, but this is not law, this is thuggery and plain extortion.

sorry, this is what i think.

and i invite you to come and ride with me or follow me from a distance.. i'm very polite, safe, and considerate, and yet i manage to get from point A to point B relatively efficiently.

BuJ said...

btw, i wanted it to be a pandora's box.the topic is serious enough to merit that. if anyone has a way to drop the message (politely) to the leaders at dubai police please let me know.