Motorists urged to take caution in UAE storm aftermath

The Ministry of Interior took to Twitter to warn motorists of heavy rains reducing visibility and strong winds causing debris to land and obstruct roads.

Police and road safety experts have urged motorists to drive with caution as strong winds downed trees and heavy rain led to flooding in some areas of the capital. Liz Claus / The National
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ABU DHABI // Police and road safety experts have urged motorists to drive with caution as strong winds downed trees and heavy rain led to flooding in some areas of the capital.

The Ministry of Interior took to Twitter to warn motorists of heavy rains reducing visibility and strong winds causing debris to land and obstruct roads.

“The biggest mistakes drivers make is not adjusting to the poor conditions,” said Dino Kalivas, chairman of the driver education and training committee at the International Road Federation.

“If roads are wet, visibility is poor, then drivers should adjust their speed, drive a little slower which gives greater time to react to hazards on the roads.”

Motorists need to drive with their headlights on, as this increases visibility to other drivers and pedestrians.

“They need to allow an increase in stopping distance, by maintaining a longer following distance between themselves and the car in front,” Mr Kalivas said. “If possible, avoid driving when rain is heaviest and visibility is extremely poor.”

Robert Hodges, the chief operating officer at Emirates Driving Institute in Dubai, agreed, saying: “Delay your trip is the weather is really bad, especially if it’s dark.”

He added: “Keep below normal speed limits and increase the space between you and the vehicle in front. In wet weather, this should be at least 4 to 6 seconds. This not only provides you with more reaction and braking time, but keeps you clear of the road spray from the vehicles in front.”

At 9.49am, traffic stopped on Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Road on both directions, at the Al Samha region due to heavy rain.

Two hours later, traffic towards Dubai had been diverted away from Al Taweela Bridge due to rising water levels.

The ministry also warned motorists of heavy rain in Al Sameeh and Ghantoot.

Emirati Mohammed Al Qemzi, 52, had to postpone his trip to Jebel Ali when he saw the massive traffic jam on the E11 motorway heading to Dubai.

“Traffic was at a standstill from Al Rahba to Ghantoot,” he said. “I was already at Al Rahba at about 11.30am but decided to return to the city, after seeing the chaos on the roads.”

Motorists are also advised to drive with caution and anticipate that there may be fallen objects on the roads and hence other drivers making unpredictable maneuvers, Mr Kalivas said.

At 11.30am, a lamppost fell on two taxis parked off the junction of Hazza bin Zayed Street and Mubarak bin Mohammed Street, near the Shaheen Supermarket and Khalidiya Police Station.

It was brought down in the high winds, hitting an Arabia Taxi’s roof top before smashing the rear windshield of the National Taxi.

“I called my company and I was asked to contact the police to report the incident,” said Govinda Chettri, a National Taxi driver from Nepal, who was at the Abu Faisal Restaurant when it happened.

Man Bahadur, 37, who drives for Arabia Taxi, said he was inside his friend’s taxi when he saw the lamppost fall on his taxi.

“I’m very scared,” he said. “Maybe my company will charge us for the damage.”

Drivers need to concentrate, looking for hazards observing the road conditions well ahea and always wear their seat belts, Mr Kalivas said.

rruiz@thenational.ae