ABU DHABI // Drivers are urged to come to a complete stop at stop signs, only continuing when it is safe to proceed, police and experts say.
Most drivers in the region roll through the signs or do not stop at all.
“They must come to a complete stop even if the way is clear,” said Col Jamal Al Ameri, head of public relations at Abu Dhabi Traffic and Patrols Directorate.
Motorists risk a Dh100 fine for failure to observe traffic signs and instructions.
“Many drivers tend to treat stop signs as ‘give way’, usually when they see the road is clear, and do not feel inclined or see the logic to completely stop,” said Dino Kalivas, the International Road Federation’s chairman of driver education and training.
“The stop sign means just that – to stop and for your wheels to stop moving and for you to have not crossed the white line on the roadway,” said Robert Hodges, chief operating officer at Emirates Driving Institute in Dubai.
“It’s not a matter of judgment and imagine if there are no cars coming you can just carry on. If that were the case at a particular junction, then it would be necessary to have a ‘give way’ sign instead.”
It is important for students and drivers to understand that authorities have placed a stop sign for a reason, he said.
“When a stop sign is not needed for safety reasons, then authorities will have placed a ‘give way’ sign instead,” Mr Hodges said.
“But even with a ‘give way’ sign, drivers should always slow down and even be prepared to stop. Drivers on the road you are entering have the right of way.”
Drivers must come to a complete stop before entering a stop-controlled intersection even if no other vehicle or pedestrian is visible.
“If a stop line is marked on the pavement, they must stop before crossing the line,” Mr Kalivas said. “At an intersection where two or more traffic directions are controlled by stop signs, generally the driver who arrives and stops first continues first.”
Khaled Al Mansoori, chief executive at Emirates Driving Company (EDC) in Abu Dhabi, said drivers must stop completely so they can get a good view of the road before proceeding.
“The junction may have hidden dangers and you have to stop to check the road and then move,” he said.
Amin Elrefai, 31, a health, safety and environment expert who lives in Ajman, said drivers often ignore stop signs.
“I know that we need to stop completely even if the street is empty,” he said. “Just this morning, a driver drove past a stop sign without looking at the street.”
Drivers honked and yelled at him for stopping completely at stop-controlled junctions.
“I just ignore them,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to get into an argument with them.”
Drivers should not be concerned about impatient or aggressive drivers, Mr Kalivas said.
Drivers should act safely and sensibly at all times, and let other people’s aggression slide past them, Mr Hodges said.
“Do not panic to pull out because you are being bullied – a wrong or forced decision can easily end up as a serious injury if an oncoming vehicle ‘T-bones’ your car,” he said.