Speeding on the road and feeling that rush, as I fly by other cars was the ultimate happiness for me. I loved the feeling, until I survived a serious accident with only a scratch, but lost a friend in another.
Imagine three rail disasters a week and a natural disaster every month. The daily loss of life on our roads is equivalent to these horrifying scenarios. More people are killed and hurt by bad driving than all other crimes combined.
According to the World Health Organization Saudi Arabia has the world’s highest number of deaths from road accidents, keeping in mind that this is with No alcohol and No women driving!
Last year an automated traffic control system was introduced in Saudi; portable camera speed detector cars were installed. The system failed miserably, they say mostly because it wasn’t tested properly. But I think integrating such a system in a society so suddenly without initiating public awareness first : Campaigns explaining the system and how it will work, and not giving the public enough time to digest it, was the reason behind it’s failure.
No one in Saudi “really” goes to driving school, boys just go and learn on the streets, and licenses mostly get delivered to them at home. It’s not the speed cameras that will stop accidents; it’s getting the youth to be disciplined, going to proper driving schools, getting road safety education, and taking serious driving tests.
While I was studying in Dubai almost every couple of months we would hear about a student who died in an accident. Road accidents are the second highest cause of death in Dubai after heart and cardiovascular diseases. An average of one person is killed every 48 hours in accidents due to speeding, and one person is injured every four hours.
But the Road & Transport Authority has been doing enormous effort in educating people. They initiated very successful campaigns through the last few years, fixed speed limits on almost every road, made it mandatory for drivers to go through 40 lessons and go through couple of tests before getting a driver license. All this effort has paid off as road facilities declined by almost 50% by January 2010.
It’s Undeclared War
In the Arab world, most of the fatalities are usually from the future generation: youth. They die young, their lives snuffed out in accidental deaths. Each of us has a 1 in 18 chance of being killed or seriously injured in a road crash. But children, the elderly and those without access to a car are particularly exposed to our obsession with speed.
Aggressive driving is what I would like to call an Undeclared War, and our roads are battlefields. This war is the leading cause of death for youth, which is not surprising considering we send 45,500 of our youth to fight every year. Over 300 never come home and nearly 7000 of them are seriously injured. It’s an undeclared war in which people die senselessly, without a cause.
The wrong speed choice kills three times as many people as driving under the influence of alcohol. The relationship between speed and road crashes is straightforward: as speeds go up, the likelihood of crashes goes up for any given set of road conditions. The reason is simple: the distance needed for responding and braking increases with speed.
And yet speeding is considered by most drivers as something normal. 85% of drivers admit to breaking the law by exceeding the speed limit. With cars still dominant in our transportation system, it is drivers who determine who uses the streets and how. It is drivers who decide what is safe for everyone else.
In one area in Dubai Police issued 50,000 fines and confiscate 700 vehicles! But Why do we need someone to give us fines why can’t we be responsible and stick to the rules? I really think that road safety is not something that the authorities do to a community; it is something that a community does for itself.
The costs of road accidents are huge: loss of life, pain, grief and suffering for the crash victim and relatives, friends and witnesses; the loss to society of the productivity victims; the costs to the Health Service for ambulances and treatment; damage to vehicles and property; costs to the police; insurance costs.
What is speeding for? What good does it do anyone? It seems that self-image has a lot to do with it. For many young drivers it’s a form of self-expression that leads to a quarter of serious crashes. Many speed because they enjoy the sensation of going fast. Some think they have a point to prove: “It’s important to show other drivers they can’t take advantage of you.” Also many drivers justify speeding as unintentional, or because they are in a hurry or because other drivers are setting the pace. Excuses Excuses Excuses
Bragging about going over 200Km/h just offers you a better chance to meet your destiny.
Live and let live.