Before you consider buying a car, issuing a driver license, or even thinking of walking around the streets of Saudi Arabia, you should really consider having a hospital ambulance on Speed dial.. The driving situation in Saudi has always been a known issue for the natives, and it seems it's growing on us more than provoke us to do something.. Driving around, you're bound to come through that crazy driver who knows nothing less than 100 km/h in small city streets (and the crazier cousin who knows nothing less than 120), and not to mention those who realize they want to go somewhere on the far left, while stuck in the far right, causing a traffic jam..
In Jeddah, geography can help you to reach point A to point B in less than 15 minutes WALKING.. Try reach the same point B using your car, you either wait for an additional 15 minutes, or not reach your destination because some jerk decided that he owns the street and you don't, and cuts you off at the next U Turn, and you smash into the guy next to you.. And guess what? If you actually piss off that King of the Road, because you drive like a Human being and he drives like Humanoid, he can actually hit the breaks infront of you and get your insurance in his pockets.. It's universally common that if you hit someone from the back, it's your fault 100%, but the Saudi police leaves it to that and doesn't even investigate if it's a normal case, or done in purpose, so that's something you should consider..
Driving is a huge pain in the behind in Saudi Arabia, and it seems more of a life hazard than a commodity.. People are annoyed with Women not driving in Saudi (i like to assume they are, because they should) but am more afraid of me driving around, not to mention my wife or my mother.. Social awareness of what driving really is, and what streets manners are tend to be some sacred science that only few know about.. You can't expect anything from a country where learning to drive is something you do by accident, or do in your own time AFTER you get a license, since using connections to get a driver license works for anyone, and you don't even have to leave the comfort of your own couch.. Force the foreigners to take those tests, sure, but citizens? they're too privileged to be taught.. Result?
What's a speed limit in a neighborhood street?
Describe the rules of driving in Roundabouts?
In in an intersection, who has the right to go before the other?
What's a turn signal?
If you're answers are : None, None, Me, Middle Finger, respectively, then congratulations, you're as Saudi as it gets..
In a recent article by Arab News, the number of deaths in Saudi has increased drastically at some parts, while decreased drastically in others.. Maybe because everyone is moving to the cities now, but it doesn't stray off the fact that 10+ people die daily from car accidents.. That's more chances of death than you being stabbed, and yet, people don't seem alarmed.. They think it's a sad fact while they're doing a 150 km/h in the Makkah highway..
I want to blame the people for the many accidents on the streets, or the many deaths because of them that are becoming common news to anyone who lived in Saudi for the past 5 years, and a death in your family for those who lived here in 10.. Truth be told, i can't, why? it's the government's responsibility more than ours.. Yes, we need to abide the laws, but we need the laws to implements as a first, and to be clear as a second.. I mean, you can't arbitrarily say anyone who hits anyone from behind (the CAR, ok?) is 100% his fault.. Nor can you expect people to abide by speed limits, when the police aren't even catching those annoying speedy bastards, or those who want to kill you on the highway when they headlight you to blindness, while you're already on the speed limit, and he wants the lane for himself.. IT'S NOT YOUR STREET, JACKASS, GO DIE SOMEWHERE ELSE..
My analysis of the situation is as follows, so I hope my words reach out to someone who can amplify them:
- Driver licenses need to be made into a horrible process of tests and tests, so when people actually get a license, they know what it takes to drive.. And fathers should give their own tests to their sons before giving them a four wheel death machine with a seat belt option.. Notice that I said option, because it's still being thought of as an optional courtesy of the driver..
- We need more educated policemen, generally, but we need MORE POLICEMEN.. I mean, when the king drove around Jeddah, the number of police cars that showed up to protect the drive through was fairly big, but driving around the city i noticed one thing.. There is not even a single police trooper around the city = Those at the scene are the police men of jeddah, all 120 of them.. Now asking for more policemen might prove to be society's pandora's box, because at sometime in the past, the government took the police as a solution to the uneducated+unemployed populous.. So please focus on the educated policemen statement i noted earlier.. PLEASE.. I can't take those upside-down license readers anymore..
- If you spend as much time in the street as, let's say, 3 hours in a row, you'll notice a certain criteria of drivers that prove to be the worst.. Bad drivers exist in all shapes and sizes, but there's a certain group that everyone is familiar with.. Those who drive a Camry's, Corolla's, Elentra's, Grand Marques's and Crown Victoria's + the sideway tilted rearview mirror combo are the most lethal and most idiotic in terms of street laws.. What we know as crazy driving, is regular driving to these weirdos.. And i don't know what kind of a social trait that is obliging these people to act like one another, but they're more united than a football hooligan posse after a final match.. Conclusion? Target them.. Analyze who they are, what they do, what they like and RELATE for god's sake with a decent infomercial or two.. Why would a private company take on it's responsibility religious and driving awareness instead of the government that should do that by default? If we can spend 700,000 SR on a stupid man-woman mix working environment research, we can spend lesser than that to make a focus group and there you go, a damn solution!
- The introduction of the Secret Police was a great idea, but you need more of them, and there are certain key locations where you can place them and actually get the job done.. the extreme left lane of any city street or highway are filled with those "driving under 120 is for sissies".. Don't just park you car on the side of the street, because when a speedy jerk sees any suspected car model, he can slow down and then prance off.. Enforce the laws, don't just wait for them to be broken.. You're title is Law Enforcement!
This really has to stop.. am getting sick of being pushed around the street because of speedy drivers, it's an annoying fact that you can't keep a clean dent-free car in this country, unless you're super slow and drive an hour a day.. and Even then, someone is bound to smash into your parked car like the other 3 accidents on my old car.. Are we going to just wait for change? or do change? or maybe wait for some very important figure to die in an accident and then decide it's time to wake up? i respect authority, but i need authority to respect me..