Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Maniacs on the Road

Published December 22, 2009 - Muscat Daily
A colleague of mine bought the car of his dreams a few weeks ago, and I saw him driving down the highway without his seatbelt on. I was horrified so I asked him the next day at work what the heck he thought he was doing speeding around town without wearing it? His answer was 'I spent 25,000 Rials on this car. You want me to drive around Salalah looking like a 2-year-old strapped to a child's car seat?' Yes, those were his exact words.

Speaking of car seats for kids, Salalah has yet to discover the benefits of using them. I cannot speak for other parts of Oman because I haven't left Salalah for a while, but here you will often see young children on the driver's lap or hanging out of the window or standing on the seats in a speeding car on a major highway. Parents seem to think their children are protected by some magic voodoo.
Is it just me or do others agree that a large percentage of drivers in Oman seem to have acquired their driver's licenses out of a Cheerios box? Whenever I'm on the road, I'm always on the lookout for old men from the mountains in ancient pickup trucks who think the highways are a free-for-all and who seem to exist in a parallel traffic universe, or the young men in expensive sports cars who overtake any vehicle in front of them that isn't going at 120 km/hr on a highway with a speed limit of 100 km/hr. What about the underage boys secretly driving their fathers' land cruisers who are too cool to indicate when switching lanes?
Why can't drivers judge distances and the speed of oncoming cars when they pull out? Why would you even consider overtaking on the left of a vehicle that is turning left? Need I mention the terrible habit of men who proceed to put their turbans on while driving during morning rush hour? They seem to control the steering wheel using their knees (while driving at 100 km/hr on the highway).
Last but not least, what in the world makes people in this country addicted to using their mobile phones while driving? I know that people all over the world do this but people in my town seem to wait until they get into the car to start making important phone calls. It's completely insane. They're not only endangering their own lives, but others' lives as well. The obvious complete absence of a sense of responsibility is extraordinary.
I was shocked to read the latest road accident statistics for the first ten months of this year. Almost 800 lives lost on the road and almost 8,000 injured in 5,895 accidents. Why did all those people have to die? Is it so difficult to drive carefully? We all know that using the phone while driving, speeding, being distracted, etc, is dangerous, but must we really wait until we are in a vehicle collision to fully comprehend what it all means?
I'm pleased with the fact that police officers seem to be spending more time on the road looking for offenders. Several people I know have been given a ticket during the past few weeks for even holding their phone in a small alleyway or for not wearing their seatbelts. I've also recently come to notice the new huge signs around town with messages practically begging people to be more careful. Kudos to the ROP for being more strict, and a salute to His Majesty for appealing to citizens to show restraint on the roads during his Meet-The-People Royal Tour last month.
I hope Oman introduces a new driving school program where not only are they required to complete at least 60 hours of training, but where new drivers are forced to watch lifelike videos on the results of texting while driving and which show in detail what actually goes on in a car during a collision. There are some really good and rather graphic videos available on YouTube and other sites. Please make an effort to drive carefully and avoid taking chances on the road. Don't wait for a tragedy to teach you the value of life.


  1. Hi Susan,

    I te to agree with you there is a lot that can still be done but I think it must start at home. I am Oman and I have two 5 year old boys who remind me to put my seat belt on when we get into the car. I find it disgusting when I see a parent belted up and the children not. It just shows you that he or she does not understand the need to put a belt on.


  2. I think a new driving course should be included introducing BASIC speeding consequences. E.g, if ur speeding 80 and another car speeding 100 and u hit face 2 face then actually you got hit by a speeding train of 180 KM/H!!!! understand body reaction ,how human mind functions and responses in milli seconds and how many nano seconds it takes for an accident to happen!!

    i doubt that ppl are aware of how much shock it is for the body to be inside a 80km/h speeding steel tan.!

    they should put them in a stimulator to give them that feeling and then they will have the shock of their life and realize WHAT 80km/h means! forget about 100 and 120 which most see it as a number only!

    Education!!! Awarness!! Shock of their life!!
    this is what those ppl need!!

  3. why did His Majesty not come to Salalah during meet the people tour??

  4. There's heavy construction going on at all three palaces.

  5. Susan u have hit the nail on the head directly with your pen ( hammer.) I jst delivered my child 3 months ago, with my hubby being jebali and not used to seat blts like we are in the uk, i had to make sure our son had a car seat to come home in from the hospital. When we eventualy brought the car seat and push chair ( cycle as they call it in salalah,) home with me, my inlaws though i had already delivered the baby whilst out on a friday grocery shopping trip. I get soooo angry at seeing people not belting their kids up.

    Allah Swt says in Quran " do not commit suicide and dont not kill." (PARAPHRASED) .. YET we see muslims with their kids standing in the middle of the two front seats, playing with the steering wheel like the car is a toy and then parents and elders who induce such behaviour. My rule is if the children dont belt up, then the car doesnt move, if the person driving drives and the child stands up, i demand to get out asap. I dont want to answer to Allah for another mans immaturity and child abuse.

    ohh boy i could write for hours on this topic..Let me know if ud be interested in writing futher on this topic, ill double up with you and share the artical with locals in salalah.

    regards umm Q