x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Message to fellow drivers: do not stop traffic to give hugs

Where should we be allowed to bring our cars to a complete stop? Should we stop them wherever we feel like, or should we park them in spots designated by the authorities?

Lately, I've been accused of suffering from what I'd call intensive vehicular-related courtesy-deficiency, more commonly known as "road rage".

But I find this a totally unfair categorisation. One person's idea of road rage is another person's idea of giving instantaneous, real-time, helpful and unsolicited feedback. What can be more helpful than that? I'm doing a public service.

Admittedly, however, the name-calling - albeit under my breath - and arm-waving may not be particularly helpful, which is why I've decided to change tactics and give some "constructive" feedback.

In writing this open letter to my fellow drivers, I hope to make clear, using empirical as well as non-empirical evidence, that my "public displays of annoyance" are normal and fully justified. And I'll try to give helpful comments to improve everyone's driving experience.

One point that apparently warrants discussion is: where should we be allowed to bring our cars to a complete stop? Should we stop them wherever we feel like, or should we park them in spots designated by the authorities? The other day, for example, a car was parked in the middle of a road while the driver was off giving the world's biggest hug to his friend or dentist (I couldn't really tell from the back).

Do we as a society want to allow this? Are we going to stand for this? As far as I could see, there were two options, no third: ignore or honk in annoyance. What would you do? I ask such people to not stop in the middle of wherever you please to give people hugs. Instead, feel free to schedule hugs to coincide with stops at traffic lights or major sporting events when random hugging is allowed.

Moving on to something I'm sure we all can recognise: turning right. Imagine that you're coming up to an intersection and you want to turn right. Lots of other motorists also want to turn right. So, you take the right-most lane and join the queue of good cars waiting to turn right. You've been in this queue for a few minutes, but it's slowly moving along so you're ok with it.

Suddenly, an "evil" driver comes out of nowhere, proceeds to force his or her way between the good cars at the top of the queue and has thus jumped the good-car queue, making chumps of us all.

How is this acceptable to anyone? Also, if you're the motorist who's letting that person in, you're encouraging this type of behaviour and you're just as bad. I'm politely asking such people to cut it out and be considerate to us. If we all cut in that way, there would be total chaos as well as a solar eclipse and 100 years of bad jazz music (it happened during the ice age, I read that somewhere).

While on the matter of turning, why not use our indicators more? Studies have shown that indicators won't lessen your car's longevity or kill a penguin in the process, contrary to the urban legend about why the Arabian penguin ceased to exist (I'm making that up).

It's a safe way of letting the rest of us know that you have no idea which way you want to turn and that we should be prepared for all possibilities.

This leads us nicely to my final point: weaving. Do people feel they are moving faster, which makes them smarter since they will reach their destination sooner?

Normally, I would call this stupid and irresponsible but I'm going to just assume that these are people who are not being stimulated enough by the driving and are looking for other outlets to boost their creativity.

I would suggest that you find something to stimulate your brain cells. One way might be to prank call your bank (hands-free of course), demand to speak to the branch manager, then tell them that you've lost your job and are wondering if he or she is in the market for a personal masseuse.

A two-person option is to have your passenger guess your weight, real or what you believe your weight to be. This could take hours and will either make or break a relationship. My personal choice would be to learn a new language on your commute.

A few final notes: people with big cars can be seen as bullies and they really have to be nice to people with smaller cars; buses are big, so get out of their way; and if you see me driving around, I'm right and you're wrong, so don't even try.

I hope my fellow drivers find this useful and now that I've got all this off my chest I promise a decrease in the number of hand gestures from my end. Happy travels.


Su'ad Yousif is a civil servant based in Abu Dhabi