If you want to go anywhere in the UAE, you have to travel by road. Yes, for the uber rich there is the option of a helicopter, luxury yacht or private jet and in the future we will have the metro. But, for now, whether it’s by car, bus, motorcycle or bicycle, you pretty much have to travel on tarmac. It’s unavoidable.
Sadly, as we all know, the death toll on our highways is uncomfortably high and your daily commute into work can be more like a session on a bumper car fairground attraction, than a leisurely cruise into the office.
The reason for touching on this much talked about subject is my first near-death experience on Sheikh Zayed Road last week. I’ve heard the stories, read the statistics – 21 deaths in 72 hours last weekend – and I’ve seen the aftermath of dozens of accidents but this time it was, almost, my turn.
I was returning to work from a lunch meeting and as I steered onto the infamous highway, a taxi careered horizontally across the carriageway straight into the side of a second taxi directly in front of me. The impact sent the victim’s car hurtling to the right over a central reservation, before the vehicle flipped and landed on its wheels again. Meanwhile, my feet slammed on the brake pedal as I desperately tried to stop my car in time. With nowhere to go but straight ahead, it seemed inevitable I’d hit the crazy taxi driver who had caused the accident in the first place. Thankfully the force of the smash had pushed him to the left allowing me to screech in between the two wrecked cars. Incredibly both drivers were unhurt, however, by the time I arrived back in the office, my jitteriness was hard to miss. Although, I hadn’t hit a thing – not even a piece of flying debris – for those few moments I thought I was going to be part of a horrific accident inside business news 24.
Later as I reflected on the alarming events of the early afternoon, I realised a simple lunch meeting had evolved into a near-death experience. Just by popping out of the office for a non-essential work appointment, I had put myself in gross danger.
Heading out of the office is part and parcel of working life; to some extent getting away is what makes the job interesting. But with horrific accidents such as the recent 200 car pile up on the Dubai-Abu Dhabi road – maybe it’s safer to stay at your desk. After all the more trips you take, the more you are increasing your probability of being squashed under the nearest cement mixer. Add in the fact, you are likely to end up in an hour-long jam on the way to your meeting and suddenly staying in seems like a more productive option. But let’s be realistic here; we can’t sit behind our desks all day and rely on conference calls for fear of maniac drivers. So what’s the solution? Apart from pulling every dangerous driver off the roads, there isn’t one in the short-term. Just remember to say a little prayer next time you head out to a meeting.