Saudi Arabia and the war on drifting
All citizens and residents in Saudi Arabia complain about a lack of traffic discipline
All citizens and residents in Saudi Arabia complain about a lack of traffic discipline, which is the most charitable way to describe mad and reckless behavior when driving cars and harassing others to be in control of the road.
The worst of these practices is drifting, when drivers turn the streets into a circus and perform a criminal show while jeopardizing people’s lives and ignoring the law.
Government measures to stiffen penalties and confront this “traffic terrorism” are welcome, needed, and must be immediately implemented. In addition to financial, physical and psychological harm, many innocent people have been killed.
The Saudi cabinet recently issued a decision to address all these violations and amend Article 69 on traffic law. The amendment considers drifting a traffic violation. For the first offense, the drifter’s vehicle will be impounded for 15 days, he will be fined 20,000 riyals ($5,332), and the case will be transferred to the relevant court to look into imposing a prison sentence.
Government measures to stiffen penalties and confront this “traffic terrorism” are welcome, needed, and must be immediately implementedMshari al-Thaydi
For second-time offenders, the vehicle will be impounded for a month, and the driver will be fined 40,000 riyals ($10,665) and be referred to the relevant court to look into imposing a prison sentence.
Third-time offenders will be fined 60,000 riyals ($15,997) and referred to the relevant court to look into permanently confiscating the vehicle, or fining the driver the same price as the rented or stolen vehicle and jailing him.
This is good news, but a lot more is required. The Saudi traffic authority has installed speed cameras, which has improved things, but problems persist. Some say this traffic madness is because young men have plenty of free time and no other entertainment, and call for building a special arena for drifters.
I oppose this justification. A crime is a crime. A thief who steals from people, even if he is poor, is still a criminal, and the fact that he is poor does not exempt him from punishment. Driving is about technique, discipline and ethics, so it is about protecting general ethics, not about a mere technical violation.
This article was first published by Asharq al-Awsat on August 10, 2016.
Saudi journalist Mshari Al Thaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Al Thaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists.