Dark and heavy clouds stood overbearing as I took to the roads in Dubai this morning. They couldn’t contain themselves for long. A passionate outpouring that brought back memories of home followed, which was simply splendid in many ways, if it weren’t for the scenes that punctuated my drive. Witnessing the rude negligence of rudimentary manners prompted me to put off a review and write this instead. Sometimes, people tend to get carried away and a reminder is all it takes. Really, the codes of road conduct on a rainy day reads like a basic chapter in civics and sheer common sense.
…that attempting to wade through water during or soon after heavy rains could be foolhardy, especially in areas that you aren’t familiar with. A hidden crater could have formed under parts that gave way in the flooding – one that surfaced next to a mall at the gates of Sharjah still calls for a brief detour! In most parts of India, this warning would apply to the main roads as well. Thankfully, roads in the Gulf are more reliable but in-roads could still leave you unpleasantly surprised!
Sure, it is fun to wade through knee-deep water in the safety of your car, but be mindful of its clearance. Don’t get carried away by someone elated with an opportunity to test the three-foot clearance of his Range Rover if you are driving a Toyota 86 or a Z4. And if you happen to drive a ‘normal’ sedan and are forced to do the ‘great crossing’, make sure you don’t let your accelerator dip, and allow the silencer to open the floodgates. Keeping it steady and slow is the key.
Ensuring your rainy day gear – lights, brakes, battery, and yes wipers – are working well is paramount in the Gulf where rains come as a surprise challenge on the road. My rain-sensors were soon driven into a frenzy, when the sky opened its shutters and I would have been in trouble if I hadn’t changed my hesitant and squeaky blades in the last service! Keep your Daytime Running Lights on if you have them, to ensure better visibility. By the way, I mentioned battery because, in the cold conditions, you might not have them charged enough while driving at a snail’s pace through puddles and traffic. We don’t want to be in a car that can’t be restarted, do we?
Coming to driving manners, it is a crime towards fellow drivers to tailgate them or shovethem out of their careful path, by inducing any sudden maneuvers. Even worse is being inconsiderate towards two-wheelers, by sidelining them or rushing past them leaving them prey to slush and spray in your wake. I saw it today and it’s not done!
Braking on these glazing-perfect roads on a wet day might send your calculations for a toss. Brake occasionally to test the efficiency of your callipers against the drums, just to shake off any excess water and keep them as dry as the weather permits. Likewise, have tyres with enough grooves or else the water beneath will have no place to hide and your car will feel as slippery as a boat on the wet surface.
At least some parts of the roads in the Gulf are not conducive to wet conditions, testing your traction and stability control to the extremes. Again, your brakes could be the best in the world, but those of the ones ahead of or behind you might not. So, ensure safe braking distance at all times and warn other drivers in advance of any idea to stop.
Getting caught in a massive puddle and having to wait for recovery is bad enough. Getting stuck long and deep enough to trash your electronics is criminal. You might even have to write off the car at times, and no one will even pay a sympathetic dime for it, remember!