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Road less traveled: Planning and safety

The traffic is always a subject in all household discussions. Even while sitting among friends the topic is about safety and well-being of drivers. Unfortunately, many who talk about safety themselves flout rules and regulations. They don’t fasten seatbelts, use their cell phones and drive with their children in the front seat.

This is despite the fact that in the month of August last year Director of the Traffic Department Maj. Gen. Abdullah Al-Zahrani had warned all motorists and their passengers to strictly abide by the traffic rules, stating that the Traffic Department “will not show any leniency in implementing new regulations,” which have been passed by the Council of Ministers.

And the blame, in these discussions, is always on the “muroor” (traffic police). I do agree that the muroor is to be blamed to some extent and believe that they too are a part of our society. And I agree with the Director General of Security Gen. Osman Al Muhreg that traffic police personnel are not angels. “However, one can fairly state that they need more training and behavioral skills.”

Our cities have witnessed tremendous growth, the population has risen and hundreds of nationalities drive with their own cultural pattern, creating confusion. This requires professionalism and a high degree of systematic evaluation. I have written on this before. Traffic management has become a science and is now being taught in universities. That’s why a high degree of training is needed.

In many global cities, traffic police, the municipality and the communities sit across the table and discuss the flow of traffic in the neighborhoods and other safety features. I have written several articles in this respect and not once was there an acknowledgement that some of the observations I had relayed were being reviewed.

We do not want a “traffic week” where the public relations department distributes photos of policemen distributing bouquets of flowers to motorists at traffic signals. We want to see action. We want a scientific approach to our traffic problems.

In an earlier article I had called on us setting up a group of mothers, and call it MADD — standing for Mothers Against Dangerous Driving. Women are a powerful force in Saudi society and many of them have lost their sons, fathers, brothers and husbands as a result of traffic accidents. If moms across the Kingdom join together to help make our roads safer, many lives will be saved!

Planned areas could curb accident, but the U-turns at King’s Road in Jeddah have caused more dangers and anxiety to people on and off the road. There are no bridges or underground passes from Obhur to the city center. And many spots could have been better developed.

How many people have died attempting to cross such roads? It’s like a mad race. Did the Traffic Department give their input? If they did, we should then blame the municipality!

The King’s Road is now more congested and disorderly than ever before. Blood pressures are on the rise, hearts beat faster and aggressiveness flows. It’s time that the traffic department sits with the municipality and mothers to discuss, exchange ideas and brainstorm a safer path.


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