Every day glaring headlines of traffic accidents are splashed across local papers.
Over the weekend there were quite a few. Everyone speaks about the abnormal high ratio of deaths in the Kingdom compared to the population. Newspapers highlight deaths on the highways but many tragic accidents go unnoticed.
For the past couple of decades, there have been many road safety programs organized by the traffic department. Fines have also been increased. Jail terms are given to errant drivers. However, the dangerous devil-may-care attitude of drivers continues unabated.
Moreover, there has not been any significant improvement in traffic services. And to top it all, many drivers know that they can get away with irresponsible behavior behind the wheel. A phone call from a father, cousin or friend can solve any problem.
What then is to be done? I believe that the first cause of accidents is the condition of our roads and the haphazardly improvised detours that can be found in our cities. Secondly, the blame must be placed on unsystematic traffic instructions and closure of exits. Finally, of course, there is the absence of police cars on the roads and the failure to enforce traffic regulations.
As a society, we have no safety culture and this is also reflected in our driving. All of these factors put together are responsible for the tragic carnage on our roads. What is needed is a sustained safety program, which is easily implemented and which holds the errant driver totally accountable for his actions.
Apart from this, we need a traffic department with mature personnel, who are well trained and educated in the enforcement of traffic regulations.
In America, there is an organization called MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) started in 1980 by a woman in California whose 13-year-old daughter was hit and killed by a drunk driver. This non-profit organization has been effective to a great extent and it claims that its involvement in aspects of traffic rules, regulations and safety awareness has helped to reduce by half the number of traffic accidents related to drunk driving.
In Saudi Arabia, we too can have an organization like MADD. And call it MADD, as well. However, it should stand 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.