Many new drivers hold on to good habits learned to pass road test in UAE
ABU DHABI // In August, Kader Batcha passed his road test on his first attempt and now relishes the opportunity to get around the city with ease even as he adjusts to long drives to Dubai.
“It just took five minutes,” he said, recalling the experience. “I was asked to change lanes, take a U-turn and drive through a roundabout.”
He had completed 10 hours of practical driving lessons at Emirates Driving Company on June 22, and took the road test on August 18.
The test was held near Industrial City Abu Dhabi, in Mussaffah. There were two police officers, one in the front and the other in the back seat.
The policeman handed out Mr Batcha’s driver’s test appointment sheet.
“He said, ‘Mabrook, I like your driving’,” said Mr Batcha, 42. “I immediately called my mum in Chennai to tell her the good news.
“Then I called my wife who asked me when we’d buy a car.”
While waiting for the delivery of a white sports utility vehicle at the end of this month, he has to be content with a rental car.
“When I start the engine and buckle up, I think of my family,” said Mr Batcha, who has two daughters, one aged 6 and the other 14. “I observe the speed limits and apply the safe driving skills I’ve learnt to stay safer on the roads.”
Khaled Al Mansoori, chief executive at Emirates Driving Company, said it was common for new drivers to change their driving habits once they obtained their licences.
“It’s important for our students to understand that the road test is for their life, for their safety and that of their loved ones,” he said. “Some dismiss safe driving as ‘only for the test, and we go out and do our own thing’.”
But Mr Batcha, who got his driving licence in India in 2004, said he was keen to continue safe driving behaviour to avoid being involved in an accident.
He has been driving from his home in Mussaffah to the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr where he works as a sous chef, and around the city. He has been to Dubai three times to meet family and friends.
“In Abu Dhabi, motorists are now driving more cautiously because there are cameras everywhere,” he said. “Occasionally you see drivers using hand-held mobile phones and those who suddenly change lanes in heavy traffic.”
He put off applying for a UAE licence when he first arrived in the UAE in 1994. He worked for two years in the Maldives and a year in Saudi Arabia before returning to the Emirates.
“My brother, who has 25 years of driving experience, failed the road test six or seven times here,” Mr Batcha said.
Many aspirants generally suffer from a lack of confidence while driving, he said.
“So many people here, especially lorry drivers, are scared of the police seated in front while they take their test,” he said. “Their hands tend to shake while holding the steering wheel and they lose control of the vehicle.”
Mr Batcha now looks forward to more long drives with his family.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity and privilege to be able to drive in the UAE, where I plan to buy a house and live for many more years,” he said.
Updated: October 15, 2014 04:00 AM