The unending tragic incidents of women teachers dying in motor vehicle accidents on the nation’s highways has finally caught the attention of the authorities. These teachers have to be driven every day to government schools in villages in remote rural areas where there are no teachers available. As a result of the increasing number of women teachers who have been killed in motor accidents, five government departments are going to form a committee to review past incidents and come up with solutions to be implemented. The committee will present its recommendations to the director of Makkah police.
However, if one goes by newspaper reports similar deadly accidents take place every day all across Saudi Arabia. How many incidents will it take to also form task forces in Tabuk where a grisly accident took place last week?
They are now talking about traffic violations by those who drive the women teachers and about the drivers’ nationalities forgetting about some of the basics. First of all most of these drivers are retired elderly people who want to earn an extra income. Yes, there are also some young men who drive these vehicles. However, no one has tested the eyesight of any of these drivers or checked their driving skills. There is no observance of basic traffic rules and since many of these teachers have to cover tens or even hundreds of miles daily to reach the schools where they work, an important factor – that of vehicle fitness – is ignored.
The drivers rarely wear seat belts, tires are worn out, brakes are not checked and added to that is a general negligence of traffic regulations and some of the worst driving practices in the world. And all of this results in a high death toll in accidents. And, yes, please include miserable road conditions. So, I don’t know what the “cooperation” of these different government departments will be able to do about this problem.
The families of the dead suffer in silence. The public agonizes every time they read about deadly accidents. And as the death toll rises we become immune to these statistics. It’s all right to have committees and we excel in having them, but we should not forget one important element – the women teachers. Ask them their views and what they feel about the spate of deadly accidents.
And let’s learn from others. Get international help from those who can assist us in raising traffic standards to a level of safety. Raise the level of not only public but police awareness and conduct a nationwide media campaign on highway safety.
The Ministry of Education with its mammoth budget can afford to get experts from abroad who will recommend the types of vehicles to be used in transporting teachers and even students. The highway police should then enforce these recommendations. There is no time to waste.
We don’t want any more dead teachers or students.