A Dubai Police chief has urged motorists to give way to fast-approaching vehicles for their own safety, and allow the force to deal with speeding drivers.
Maj Gen Saif Muhair Al Mazroui, director of the force's traffic department, said drivers who refuse to switch lanes as they are abiding by speed limits risk putting themselves in danger.
Tailgating – in which motorists drive closely to the vehicle in front, in an effort to force them to change lanes – is an all-too familiar sight on UAE roads, and one of the leading causes of serious accidents.
Other aggressive tactics adopted by some road users include flashing headlights, blaring car horns and using the hard shoulder to illegally overtake.
Such behaviour is typically found in the left lane – known as the fast or overtaking lane – in which some motorists regularly ignore posted speed limits.
Clear the way to avoid accidents
“Drivers who are driving in the fast lane should move to the right lane and let the faster driver pass," said Maj Gen Al Mazroui.
"The driver shouldn’t refuse to give way thinking he is following the speed limit.
“If the driver in the front car insisted on not clearing the left lane then accidents can happen practically when the other driver will overtake from the right lane at high speed. Better to clear the way to the motorists behind you.”
He said speed cameras are in place and police patrols watch the roads to catch out high-speed offenders.
“The driver in the front car doesn’t know the circumstances or the condition of the other driver as they might have an emergency forcing them to speed. Police will deal with the speeding driver,” the officer said.
Dubai Police revealed that nine people were killed and 248 were injured in 350 rear-end collisions in the emirate in the first six months of the year.
Tailgating is a major factor in such incidents, with motorists failing to leave a safe distance between other vehicles, having little time to react to unfolding events, such as a slow-down in traffic ahead.
Police figures showed there were 553 accidents caused by tailgating last year, resulting in 24 deaths and 405 injuries.
Maj Gen Al Mazroui cautioned against travelling at slow speeds – particularly in the left lane – but stressed it is no excuse for reckless actions from impatient motorists.
Thousands fined for tailgating
“Tailgating or road rage is not right, even if the driver in front of you is driving slowly. There are police channels to report such behaviour, such as ‘We All Police’ and ‘Police Eye’ on smart phones," he said.
More than 14,000 motorists were fined for failing to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles in the first six months of the year.
The offence carries a Dh400 fine and a driver can have four points placed on their licence.
The same financial penalty is levied against drivers who fail to give way to vehicles approaching from behind.
“Drivers should know the road is not owned by any of them and there are clear laws to follow. Remember, other drivers are not your enemy and you need to clear the road for faster cars,” Maj Gen Al Mazroui said.
'Terrified by tailgating'
Motorist Riju Raj said he feared for his safety when he was the victim of tailgating on Sheikh Zayed Road last month.
He felt "trapped' as a car rapidly approached from behind, while he had a car ahead and another blocking his exit route on the right.
“He was too close to the rear end of my car and kept flashing the headlights. I was trapped between him and the other two vehicles. He made me nervous and terrified of having an accident,” Mr Raj said.
After a few kilometres, he managed to move his car to the right and the driver passed him at high speed.
“He was acting dangerously for no reason. I saw him looking at me furiously.”
'Slow drivers' part of the problem
Mustafa Ahmed, a 40-year-old Dubai resident, said motorists failing to keep pace with traffic can force other road users into taking evasive action.
“You can see slow drivers on fast lanes causing road rage as they insist on not clearing the road. They can affect the safe flow of traffic and cause accidents,” Mr Ahmed said.
“Some motorists might drive at high speed because of an emergency like reaching a hospital or important appointment. It is better to give away to avoid troubles.”