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11 November, 2005

Blind driving the blind

Driving instructor tests in the UAE need to be a lot tougher, according to Dubai's Higher Traffic Committee. (God only knows what the standards of the Lower Traffic Committee must be like).

The article quotes Belhasa Driving Centre's training director Adam Kechil, who admits that UAE instructor tests are inadequate:

"The current test that instructors go through [with the traffic police] is slightly above the learner test… It is easier to pass than the learner driver test in Europe," he said

Would this be the same Adam Kechil who - in what can only be imagined to be some misguided fit of political correctness given the demographic breakdown of UAE accident stats - recommended dropping the insta-licenses for many (usually western/European) countries:

"Dubai: The practice of exchanging the driving licences of certain nationalities over the counter without tests should be stopped to reduce traffic accidents in the country, said a driving expert.

"Dubai is the city where driving needs 100 per cent concentration because drivers from different countries, especially those who have not been trained in the country, tend to ignore fundamental rules causing hazards on the road, said Adam Kechil, Director of Driving at Belhasa Driving Centre (BDC) in Dubai.

"He said every new driver in the country should have a fundamental driving course before being allowed to drive."

So despite the fact that Europeans have already passed a test more stringent than UAE driving instructors, you want them to undergo the local test? Because we've all witnessed just how brilliantly UAE driving instruction makes people drive, in terms of etiquette, lane discipline, safety and just basic common sense.

The lunatics really are running the asylum.



Blogger Emirati said...

Ive always said, send them to Abu Dhabi. With the reformed drivers system, today getting an abu dhabian liscence is a herculean effort.

11 November, 2005 18:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adam Kechils' comments aren't odd or contradictory. Belhasa Driving Centre sells driver training courses. Anything that sells more driving courses is A-OK in Mr. Kechils' book.

Of course, he's like the UAE to drop the insta-license -- he'd make a bloody fortune.

11 November, 2005 22:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emirati, why is it that the worst drivers in this country, by my experience, are from Abu Dhabi? Driving enormous white SUVs? And are all local? And are homicidal on the road? And who do things like tonight, pushing hard behind me, no more than 3cm from my bumper, and then trying hard to just-not-hit me when they finally pass on the right?

It makes me laugh when people here claim that there's anything wrong with the licensing system, especially for foreigners. The problem is significantly deeper than that.

11 November, 2005 23:03  
Blogger Emirati said...

anon 23:03

well you should come down to abu dhabi sometime, people here drive better than in dubai by my experience.

sure there are some locals who are idiots, its very easy for you to point out and say "oh look at the way the local drives" because its a stereotype. but do you know why it gets so bad in dubai ? because thats what happens stick in improperly trained self centered drivers, with the GCCs crack team of speed monkeys, and some of the worst driving i have ever seen in my entire life.

12 November, 2005 00:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to start with, I would happen to agree with any system wherein all 'potential' drivers on these roads start on a even footing. I have licences from 4 countries, including the UK but the level of driving skills required here is different to anything else i've experienced. Yes I'd agree that even western european/american / ANZ licence holders should undergo a road test ( at the very least). There's nothing wrong with that.

However the bigger problem lies in the total lack of self discipline many drivers exhibit on the roads. Since fines don't seem to have much effect, either impounding cars or temporary cancellation of licences should be enforced.

As to drivers from AD being worse than Dubai, one can't generalise to any great extent. On Sh Z road most of the tailgating and bumper kissing is done by huge 4x4s whether AD or Dubai or Sharjah or even like in my case this morning a little piddly white nissan with blacked out windows. I just laughed at the 'gentleman'.

12 November, 2005 09:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I can say is that the fast lane on (for example) the 311 is filled with vastly overgrown two-year-olds driving vastly overgrown automobiles. If anything is to be done for this, I believe the country should immediately institute mandatory remedial classes in impulse control: "No, you can't have it right now. No, you must be polite." Most of us learn this very early on - why is it that the majority of those who haven't are on the expressways of the UAE?

12 November, 2005 11:34  
Blogger kingfisher said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12 November, 2005 15:23  
Blogger kingfisher said...

Ladies and Gents,

Given the demographics of the city, in which the 'local' population of indigenous peoples is low (for discussions' sake let's say 20%), it is awkwardly obvious that not all the bad driving is by locals...

I see a hell of a lot of shitty driving and attitude from expats both caucasion and non-white.

The standards of planning of the road system do not help, and it is axiomatic that 6 lanes merging in to 2 is going to create trouble, but I have never seen such lack of courtesy on the roads.

Dubai planners need to be kicked in the sack for their stupidity too. For exapmple: The Sheik Zayed slip road on the west side has a posted speed limit of 60 kmh. It also has angle parking, which must be paid for during certain hours. The total number of parking stalls on the westernmost side (near the shops and hotels) has slightly more spaces overall. However, the parking metres which must be used are vastly more plentiful on the eastern side of the slip road... this means one must leave one's vehicle and run like hell across the road to the metre and then come back to install the ticket... all through traffic cruising along far too quickly for the congested conditions. 40 kmh should be the posted speed. There is nothing but empty space in this bloody country, yet the city planners and greedy developers and dumb municipal planners have completey messed it up. It could have been done so well...

12 November, 2005 15:24  
Blogger Mr Smith said...

all I know is when im happily bouning down SZ Rdat 130mph, 99% of the people who come barreling up behind me and flashing the hell out of me, though they can see i cant yet pull over - their plates are all AbuDhabi - I recognise the need to get home, youve a long drive - but please some consideration for higher volume areas, esp. around IC 4 - 5 construction, do you really need to scare the willies out of an india driving at 80, and said driver cuts across 4 lanes to undertake !

13 November, 2005 14:16  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even tho I'd been driving in my home country for many years, I had to take the test here. I took 10 lessons (another story) with an instructor and every time I see criticism of instructors I feel compelled to speak out. Her standards were very high. But maybe that's because I went to a small company and not one of the Big Four who are known to 'influence' their students' being passed...

13 November, 2005 15:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok thanks for all the comments. I am not new to criticism. Those new to Dubai from the UK may remember me from TV (Judge on Britain's Worst Driver, Work with Vicky Butler Henderson and Quinten Wilsonetc). My aim in Dubai is to raise the standard of driving test. If the test standard was raised then everyone should take a fresh test before aqiring a licence for that country. Why? In the UK alone 10 people everyday are dying on the roads! In some other countries it is worse. How do I know? I hold a degree in driver education and am currently working towards a doctorate with Middlesex University and it all forms part of the research etc. I am sure that you will all agree that even one death is too many on any road anywhere in the world. As for instructors, well instructors can only teach to the standard set by the government, after all it is them who set the syllabus. Whilst all our instructors must pass an internal instructors examination I would like the government to take control of this so that it may be implimented in ALL DRIVER TRAINING CENTRES. As for money, yes I do need to put food on the table for my family, but I am not an executive director who is trying to increase business for BDC nor am I on commision. Those who do remember me from the UK may know that I am still involved with all the charities related to road safety and often give up time to educate and re-educate for FREE. It is this that wins the Queens award and nothing else. So please stay focused and help me convince the government in all counries to help and reduce death on the roads - Thank You

25 December, 2005 23:03  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Hi Adam - thanks so much for your comments and for being sporting about my rant!

You are right: any effort that can be made to reduce road deaths is worthwhile. Training is hugely important, but god only knows what can be done about all the hundreds of thousands of drivers currently on UAE roads that were mistaught, inadequately tested, and continue to drive badly and dangerously day in day out.

If the test standard was raised then everyone should take a fresh test before aqiring a licence for that country.

If it's raised - definitely. There is very little point for drivers from certain Euro/US countries retaking the current test. Particularly as certain good practices aren't even taught here (they may be since you have arrived) such as basic lane discipline and the concept of "overtaking" lanes, not 40/60/80/100/350 as is the current nightmare scenario.

Australia has a fairly intelligent system for overseas drivers: certain countries are pre-qualified in terms of the road test, but every new migrant regardless of their origins is required to take the written theory test. Not sure how that would go here - given that not all drivers are literate, let alone in English or Arabic.

25 December, 2005 23:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least Dubai is doing someting! As one who has been to 26 countries (8 Arabic) I can safely say the standard of driving instruction in Oma is the worst I've ever seen. One only has to see how the 'instructors' drive to get an understanding as to why the standard of driving in the Sultanate is so bad.

29 January, 2006 13:09  
Blogger Michiel Claassen said...

Dear all,

it is with great interest that I've read the comments on road safety in various countries in the world. And I will be frank about my interests in this. Besides our mutual wishes for no more accidents and related misery, like Mr. Adam Kechil, I also got to earn a living: I'm working for the company PEHEJA BV in the Netherlands. We produce an original cable dual control system (own invention), which can be installed, and re-installed in every type of driving instruction vehicle: car, truck or coach. We are TÜV-automotive certified since 2004, and we already supply numerous driving school and installing centers in more than 16 countries in the world. I won't bother you with details of our product. To my knowledge it is still not standard for a driving instructor to have a dual control in the instruction car in many countries. And I feel this is essential for an instructor to explain various important details to his/her students. Especially in the sence of "feeling driving". This of course besides the general most important thing: correcting the vehicle in dangerous situations. And I have the impression that in a discussion about education levels, such a essential tool should be considered also. So I hope you will regard my reaction not as spam, but as a real one, which is biased of course (commercial..), but also as an honest contribution in an effort to improve safety in driving (-education) all over the world. If someone is interested in our system (or the related product STOPTRONIC), you can check us on or mail me directly to We have very reasonable prices, and our 30 years of experience is at your disposal.

02 June, 2006 14:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey now, its not so fair to condemn the UAE drivers as horrendous. I live in Boston and by God these Bostonians can not drive! They do not know what the word patience means nor do they know what the phrase "put on your signal before changing lanes, turns, etc."

We have such high crash rates because:

1. Cell phone usage
2. Greedy fat asses eating while driving
3. People don't want anyone getting in front of them.

I have visited the UAE and I have family there...when I was in UAE, I have seen only good things about their roads and drivers. Or maybe I just happened to be there when things were good.

01 October, 2007 06:23  

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