After 35 Years

February 21, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

“I’m done paying the bills and I’m just leaving the bank,” I told my dad. He asked me to wait while he stopped the car to talk; he has a thing about driving in Dammam while talking on the cell; and he’s right about that.

While I waited, I watched another customer leave the bank and proceed toward his Caprice SS. He came to a halt just outside the driver window and whatever he saw on the reflection must have not appealed to him and decided this was a good time to adust his ghutra. While in the process, his cellphone rang and once done adjusting his head piece, he decided to put that 50 Cent ringtone out of its misery and answer the phone. I hope he wasn’t thinking of driving off while talking on the phone.

 The bank is located in the downtown area and it was noon; so this wouldn’t exactly be the best time to drive around unless you can handle bumper-to-bumper traffic and weavers trying to knock you off the road. You can forget about trying to cross those streets. If major video game makers decided to make one based on that city with the goal simply to cross the street safely at noon, no one would ever finish the game…even with cheat codes. Even worse, the bank is just beside the street, with the sidewalk serving as a makeshift parking lot; so anyone leaving the bank would have to wait for ages before they can safely back out.

With the press of a button and flash of the indicators, his door was unlocked and he went in, fired up the engine, switched on the A/C, and from the way the car’s rear just raised a couple of centimeters, I knew he’d just shifted into ‘R’; all the while busy talking on his Motorolla.

Then he backed up. He never looked. There was a Yukon headed for him. It swerved in time, albeit nearly flipping over. Sadly though, the much heavier Ford truck behind it wasn’t as agile…

And screeeeeeeeech…WHAM. (imagine sound of glass shattering and cars screeching)

“What happened!? Was that you? I told you never to drive while talking on your cellphone!” screamed my dad, more worried than angry, judging by his tone.

After assuring my dad it wasn’t me but was a guy parked a few spaces away from me, I went and checked out the scene. It appears the guy was busy talking on the phone and totally forgot about his surroundings; and whoever was driving the Excursion had a gash on the left side of his head; no seatbelt. Another reason not to buy Ford…the airbags didn’t deploy.

And now…after an ancient traffic law system that’s never been changed in the past 35 years, the Saudi authorities finally think about giving their Traffic Rules book a facelift.  “It will soon be finalized,” said the director of the Traffic Dept. in KSA.

A tad too late if you ask me…since the Kingdom already has one of the highest traffic accident rates in the world. They say the new law would make it illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. Heck now they think of making it a must for those with toddlers to use a child safety seat for infants.

They tried many ways to curb the accident rates. They tried posting radar checks around the highways, but we all got to know their hideouts and thus slowed down when in the ‘zone.’ They tried using undercover police in civillian cars pimped with police gadgets, but what gave them away were the tinted windows and sometimes their flashing lights. (Guys…stop flashing your lights when patrolling. That way suspects wouldn’t know you’re coming). They tried a few cameras…didn’t work.

But I shouldn’t fret; I’m sure this is all a good thing, even if it took thousands of lives to get them to this milestone. But then again, with a good amount of locals (and foreigners) treating the laws as a list of suggestions, and with people having a constant nutritional supply of Vitamin ‘WOW’…just how effective will these new rules be?

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  1. Ahmed
    February 22, 2007 at 8:42 AM

    I agree with you it did take them long to come to this point. Your also right about the vitamin wow part. I am sure anyone with connections will not hesitate to call someone as soon as they are in trouble with the police.

  2. Andrea
    February 22, 2007 at 10:52 AM

    Google sent me to your page when I was searching for driving in saudi arabia. I couldn’t believe it one day when I saw a man holding his infant on his lap while driving his car on the highway. I thought there used to be rules against this but I just found out they just imposed them now.

  3. Abdullah
    April 27, 2007 at 10:55 AM

    I agree with you. It has taken way too long for these new rules to come by, but it is better than nothing. I personally used to adhere to these regulations before, but not due to them being rules, rather for my own safety and family’s as well.

  4. Sam
    April 29, 2007 at 9:24 AM

    Ahmed: Exactly, what’s the use of connections then?

    Andrea: Welcome to the corner. I’ve seen many incidents myself where a father would have his toddler on his lap while driving a car. One certain father was even driving a manual car, which is much riskier.

    Abdullahi: Likewise. Many of us still have the common sense to know that we don’t need the government to enforce safety on us…we just act for our own good.

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