Ramadan Driving Tips

A desperate dash to sustenance is not the right road; if you want to eat to live, first you must live to eat

By Shahzad Sheikh

Ramadan Driving Tips

Oh boy. Here we go. Ramadan is here and if you’re smart, you know what that means in our region – stay off the roads in the hour leading up to Iftar.

If you think the standard of driving is bad the rest of the year, this is when it reaches Death Race 2000 levels. Light-jumping, reckless racing, illegal short-cutting, hard-shoulder hogging and outright dangerous speeding all take place at this time. Speed cameras snap so fast during this hour they run out of film in the first fifteen minutes and the flashes burn themselves out!

Normally God-fearing saintly drivers turn demonic as hunger pangs, cracked lips, a scratchy dry throat and the pounding drill in their heads takes over their normally sensible faculties of reasoning and transforms them into Dick Dastardly types. Mad Max: Fury Road is nothing compared to Sheikh Zayed Road before 7pm from tomorrow night onwards for 30 days. Valhalla or bust – outta my way!

Ramadan Driving Tips

And that’s not the only change in driving patterns during Ramadan. Late night the streets and particularly malls will be packed with limited parking giving rise to even more tensions, and early morning commutes will become a dangerous game of dodgems as you share road space with the zombie-drivers not sure if they’re asleep or awake, and denied their shot of start-the-day caffeine.

The middle of the day can be the quietest and best time to drive, but it’s too hot, particularly if you are fasting and then there’s dehydration to deal with. Ramadan unfortunately presents us with the best ever argument for autonomous cars, but until the robots take over, if you want to stay sane and safe driving in Ramadan you have two choices – stay off the roads altogether, or follow these Ramadan Driving tips:

Ramadan Driving Tips

1.       Calm down!

Take it easy, whether you’re fasting or not, accept that driving is going to be more dangerous and you’ll have to temper your speed and approach to your normal routine.

Allow more time for journeys, drive slower and lock bad old ‘Road Rage’ in the deepest darkest dungeon and, you know what, just leave it there even after the holy month of Ramadan.

Ramadan Driving Tips

2.       Be Extra Vigilante

Those fasting are getting up for Suhoor at 3-3:30am (having probably gone to bed after midnight), praying Fajr around 4am and then possibly trying to sleep a bit more before work. Fortunately work hours are staggered with different timings for the government sector and private sector, so starting at 7, 8 or 9am, and mostly ending at 2pm or 3:30pm.

So rather than having a regular 7-8 hours sleep, people are making do with two-three hour segments of sleep. Proper sleep and rest has been proven necessary for attentiveness and concentration, as has a good and properly balanced diet.

Keep in mind then that those fasting are going without food, and more crucially anything to drink, for over 15 hours. And it’s hot – temperatures hitting high 40 degrees centigrade in some cases.

Ramadan Driving Tips

It’s pretty clear then that people are tired, hungry, sleepy, very likely dehydrated and not focussing or concentrating on what they are doing, particularly when it comes to driving – that goes for pedestrians too. In other words, people are a bit cranky and testy. Allow for that.

Go into full defensive driving mode, be extra careful, ignore the radio, put the phone away, focus on everything around you, expect the unexpected, assume everyone else is driving (or even walking around) like a complete moron and just allow for it.

Don’t get riled up, don’t get angry – be the most gracious and forgiving driver in the history of road use. Slow down, leave yourself an extra margin of error, take no chances, obey traffic rules and regulations stringently, and give way whenever and wherever you can safely.

Ramadan Driving Tips

3.       Recognise your limits

We’re all just humans, not machines. And sometimes it will all just be too much. If you’re a faster and having trouble staying awake, if you’re feeling groggy and have double vision, then you really need to ask yourself if you should be driving at all.

The answer may well be ‘no’ but that’s a very hard thing to admit and, let’s be honest, even moreso for a man, because we’re all ‘driving gods’ of course. But let’s throw in some clichés – better safe than sorry, better late than never, better alive than dead (I just made the last one up). If you have even an inkling that you’re too exhausted to drive, then you are, so don’t – you pose a mortal risk to yourself and others.

A mistake on the road can be made in a split-second – let’s not let this be a Ramadan you remember for all the wrong reasons. It’s meant to be a time of joy, peace and celebration. Remember your loved ones. You have a responsibility to be safe and keep others safe.

Ramadan Driving Tips

4.       Avoid all unnecessary journeys completely

Don’t drive if you don’t have to. Even after Iftar and in the evening. Remember your body clock is adversely affected, your diet is also potentially messed up. Heavy food – which is what we tend to gorge on after fasting – is not conducive to an alert mind either (as studies have shown). You still may not be operating physically and mentally at 100%.

Ramadan Driving Tips

5.       I quit driving!

In fact having written the above, I am myself contemplating leading by example and giving up testing cars for review in Motoring Middle East completely over the next 30 days.

What?!

Well think about it. We tend to drive these cars long and hard in order to get as wide a comprehension and understanding of the product as we can in the short time we have the cars in order to bring you a proper review.

We also need to photograph and film them, and doing that in the middle of the day whilst fasting is impossible – I’d probably pass out if I can’t keep swigging my Pocari Sweat.

Ramadan Driving Tips

So we’re left with dawn or dusk. The later would be ideal, because we could drink plenty of fluids immediately after breaking the fast, but as we’ve already established, that’s the worst time to be driving around.

Dawn then? I’ll be too sleepy to drive, and the photos will all be very blurry!

So I’ll see you back on the roads in 30 days then – meanwhile stay alert, stay safe, stay cool. I value your company here at MME, so do please take care and have a wonderful and blessed month ahead.

Ramadan Kareem to you all!

Ramadan Driving Tips

Illustrations through Bitstrips. 

See also –
Hot Weather Driving Tips
Rain and fog Driving Tips

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