Bus driver Syed Hasnain, who takes labourers from their accommodation to work sites, tells of the dangers of reckless driving, not getting enough sleep and the use of phones while driving.
Abu Dhabi bus driver puts a brake on risky habits
ABU DHABI // Bus driver Syed Hasnain learnt he had to stop using a mobile phone while driving when he collided with a pickup truck while doing so.
The Pakistani, who transports labourers from their camps to worksites, is well aware of the dangers of reckless driving, insufficient sleep and the risky use of mobile phones.
“I had an accident in the Al Mafraq area of Abu Dhabi in 2009. I used to talk on the phone. But God saved me from a big crash and I ended up with minor injuries,” said the 27-year-old, who starts his day at 4am.
“I hit a pickup that was moving beside me and received minor physical injuries. I was transporting the workers’ lunch from their camp to the worksite.
“Since then I decided not to use mobile phones while driving. I avoid taking calls, but in an emergency I use earphones.”
When the mercury surges to 50°C in the peak summer months, he has to wake up at 3.30am.
Mr Hasnain, who lives near a labour camp in Mussaffah, has been a bus driver in Abu Dhabi for eight years.
He has watched a video of a bus crash in Dubai on May 10 that killed 13 workers when the vehicle ploughed into the back of a lorry.
“The main reasons for accidents are speeding, inadequate sleep and using handheld mobile phones while driving,” he said.
And at times labourers pressure drivers to step on the accelerator in the evenings because they want to reach their camp before others do, according to Mr Hasnain.
“They become very aggressive and get ready to fight if we don’t meet their demand. This is the situation every day,” he said.
The workers wanted to be the first to use the showers before rushing to the dining hall for dinner, otherwise they might have to wait a couple of hours before they could eat, said Mr Hasnain.
The rush to be first is exacerbated by the ensuing bottleneck when 30 buses filled with workers reach a labour camp at the same time.
“During June, July and August, we start transporting them from 4am and wake up about 3.30am every day. We start early because workers get midday breaks from 12.30pm to 3pm,” said Mr Hasnain, who earns Dh2,500 a month.
There is no set routine for bus drivers, which results in inadequate rest. And that is the main reason that drowsy drivers get into road accidents in the mornings, he said.
“I take two trips in the morning carrying 65 workers at a time. Then I start bringing them back from 5pm onwards,” said Mr Hasnain, adding that drivers generally rest and watch television shows during the day.