x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Braking early is key element in safety

Instructors know better than anyone what lorry drivers are doing wrong.

ABU DHABI //Instructors at the more than 30 private driving schools in Abu Dhabi know better than anyone what lorry drivers are doing wrong.

And their number one gripe is the techniques they witness on roundabouts.

Samir Gul, 66, a heavy-vehicle driving instructor from Peshawar, said many lorry drivers approach roundabouts too fast and leave their braking too late.

"They [also] drive so fast and do not wear their seat belts," he added.

They often fail to check their mirrors when entering a roundabout, said another instructor, Essa Khan, 35, from Buner, Pakistan.

"They also fail to use indicators or signals and do not change gears at appropriate times," he added.

Sulaiman Saeed, 27, has been a heavy vehicle and bus driving instructor at Al Nasser Driving School in Abu Dhabi since 2008.

"When approaching a roundabout, you should apply the brakes and be extra careful," he said.

Mr Saeed, a Pakistani national who was born in Abu Dhabi, obtained his heavy-vehicle licence in 2004 and worked as a trailer driver in Dubai from 2006 until 2008.

He has a driving licence for a light vehicle, lorry and heavy bus.

Before taking to the road, he said, drivers should check their tyres, brakes, water, diesel and the load. A knowledge of the physics of driving is also essential.

"When a gear doesn't work correctly, we teach them to use the double declutch," he said, referring to a method of shifting gears in a vehicle with an unsynchronised manual transmission, as found in most commercial lorries.

"We use the lower gears for going up a hill and we teach students not to use the neutral gear.

"There are times when brakes on heavy vehicles do not work. An empty truck's brakes may work perfectly, but the same is not true for a fully loaded vehicle."

One thing drivers are doing right, according to Dino Kalivas, the director of training at Emirates Driving Company, is staying in the designated lane.

"Heavy-vehicle drivers are probably the most disciplined at staying in the slow lane," he said.

"They're pretty good at doing that, but they drive awfully close to each other, tailgating literally inches away from each other. They leave no room for error."

Mr Saeed tells his students to keep a 100-metre distance or at least a three-second gap to the vehicle in front.

"The brakes go rough at times," he said. "So you have to keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front."

rruiz@thenational.ae