x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Runaway 4-wheel-drive cruises out of control

Scene on road to Al Ain harks back to Keanu Reeves movie Speed.

On the long, monotonous highways of the UAE, cruise control can be a lifesaver. But when it goes wrong, it can be perilous indeed.

That was the calamity faced recently by a driver who, on his way from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain, found his SUV's cruise control jammed as he sped past Al Khatim at 160kph. In scenes reminiscent of the 1994 movie Speed, starring Keanu Reeves, police had to come up with a plan to get the runaway 4x4 under control before it ran out of road.

Two police cars drove ahead in formation, lights and sirens blaring to clear the way, as officers talked to the motorist by phone to work out how best to bring his vehicle under control. After he struggled with the controls for about 25km, police took the "necessary measures" - although they did not specify what those were - to bring it to a stop in an unpopulated area.

Eventually it came to a standstill near Ramah, according to Brig Gen Hussein Ahmed Al Harthi, the head of the police traffic directorate, "without presenting any danger to the driver or other motorists".

In a similar incident in Saudi Arabia last month, police triggered the automatic brakes of a Toyota Land Cruiser stuck in cruise control at 210kph by shooting out the rear windscreen, according to the Saudi newspaper Al Rayat.