While I sit car-free in the gentle streets of Kirribilli (Sydney) which are presently lined with purple Jacaranda trees and Schiaparelli-pink Bouganvillias, Richard is learning to navigate traffic in the UAE.
For a period of a few months it seems he will be working full-time on client site in Abu Dhabi. This is one and half hours drive away from Dubai. Not that far by European standards, but REALLY far by our newly-adopted Sydney standards; where we don’t have a car at all and walk or take the train a few stops to work.
It’s worth nothing that this 1.5 hour drive is calculated for cars going at speeds of between 130 and 160km per hour. His first note on the subject was this:
The traffic is fast and uses no indicators. The average speed on the Dubai side is 130Km/h and on the Abu Dhabi side it is 150Km/h.
I then asked him if speed limits existed in theory to which I received this reply:
There are speed cameras. On the Dubai side they occur very regularly, every 2kms I think. They are set at 130 or 140 km/h before they take your photo. On the Abu Dhabi side they are set at 160 km/h. Also, my little Peugeot hire car constantly beeps once it hits 120 km/h which is very annoying when you are trying to follow a colleague in another car all the way to Abu Dhabi.
When you renew your registration you have to pay all speeding fines. So if you are very rich you just pay.
So it appears IF there is a demerit point system it is very liberally applied. Much the same as in the Netherlands. Except that traffic in the UAE quite a bit faster and does not use indicators.
Here is a link to a description of a 200 car pileup on the same stretch of road. Charming. http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/traffic_and_transport/10196797.html
A sense of humour and lack of fear in these things goes a long way to being able to operate in confronting situations like this. That said, I’m wondering it its too early for me to place my order for a German car with a five- star crash pod…
The speed cameras have a range of error of approximately 20km per hour. The speed limit in Dubai is 140km per hour and in Abu Dhabi, 160km per hour. The end result is that the perceived speed limit is 160km per hour in Dubai and 180km per hour in Abu Dhabi. (This gets interesting when people hit the occasional unsigned speed hump in the middle of the freeway.)