DUBAI // You know the feeling: the pointer on your petrol gauge is perilously close to empty but there’s a queue at the petrol station so you think, I’ll fill up tomorrow.
Well, be warned – such procrastination could cost you not just the embarrassment of a conked-out car in the middle of the road, but a hefty fine.
Police in Dubai report an alarming increase in the number of vehicles that have come to a halt because they have run out of petrol, which traffic police chief Col Saif Al Mazrouei describes as “extremely irresponsible and dangerous at the same time”.
“To stop in the middle of the road or disrupt traffic can lead to serious injuries, or worse, fatalities,” he said.
Running out of petrol is not an offence, but stopping in the road may attract a Dh500 fine and four black points, and the fine for disrupting traffic is Dh200.
“It just doesn’t make sense for a motorist to pass by a gas station when they notice the tank empty. In fact, people are advised to fill up their tanks when they still have a quarter left,” said Maj Mohamed Al Qaydi, head of traffic patrols in Bur Dubai.
“A person’s life is precious, and if someone does run out of gas, then it is imperative they do not end up in the middle of the street or disrupting traffic,” Maj Al Qaydi said.
“I understand that sometimes there are a lot of people waiting in line at the gas station, but that is no excuse to put your life and the lives of others in danger.”
An attendant at a petrol station on Sheikh Zayed Road said that he has at least two customers a day who ask for fuel be filled in a container because their cars have stopped near by.
“It happens on a daily basis. We get two or three people that come to the station and purchase a container for either Dh65 or Dh30,” he said.
Dubai resident Dina Kassem, 23, believed the reason for such incidents was that people were always in a hurry.
“I’ve had a few close calls in which I’ve felt the car was going to run out of fuel,” she said. “No one wants to intentionally run out of gas, but, in my case, I’m always either in a hurry in the morning to get to work or too exhausted to wait in a queue at the gas station after my shift.
“Almost every time I have gone to fill up, it would take me at least 15 minutes.”
Paul, 54, whose vehicle has come to a halt because it ran out of fuel, said he found crowded petrol stations an inconvenience.
“I was on my way to Dubai from Abu Dhabi and realised I needed to refuel. The first gas station I saw was very crowded, and I decided to drive to the next one.
“Unfortunately, my car stopped about 300 metres away from the station. My car started to stall, and I was forced to park on the side of the road and walk back to get fuel.
“You always think the next gas station is going to be less crowded, but that is never the case.”
For Rabia Jamal, 27, who recently moved to the UAE, waiting in line to fill up is still preferable to running out of fuel.
“I just moved here, and I’m constantly worried that I would run out of gas because I keep getting lost on the roads, and, sometimes, a detour would put me back another 20 minutes,” she said.
“I would rather leave my house early before an appointment to make sure I have a full tank than run the risk of getting stuck in the middle of nowhere.”