How do we eliminate ‘traffic terrorism’?

It is infuriating as well as annoying that Riyadh suffers the most from this phenomenon

Mashari Althaydi

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An infuriating and stubborn threat exists today that is as lethal and harmful to peace as and wellbeing as the terrorism attributed to extremist groups. Yes, that would be “traffic terrorism” that exists in more than one Arab city. Frankly though, when we talk about Saudi cities, Riyadh suffers the most from this phenomenon. It is infuriating.

Every day, we hear about horrific incidents that kill children, women and young men almost. Unfortunately, most of these are caused by people who were not taught the right values by their parents. Speed cameras of the Saher system have not succeeded in curbing some mad young men even though they provide some deterrence.

Recently, many of were witness to a group of reckless drivers drifting their cars at breakneck speed amid hundreds of cars that were being driven safely in one of Riyadh’s streets. Saher has helped limit this madness but so far it has only contributed a little.

This is evident in the fact that many drifters continue to cause horrific accidents on a daily basis. This is in addition to other traffic violations such as driving down a one-way roadway, not abiding by traffic signals and much more.

Just yesterday it was reported that six people from one family were killed and one other was critically injured in a car crash on al-Janadriyah road, east of Riyadh. A few days ago, Dr Salman al-Ouda’s wife and son were killed in a car accident on the Shaqaraa-Riyadh road. In the past, five sons of Dr Ismail bin Mohammed Al-Bishri, director of al-Jouf University, were killed in a horrific car accident in the eastern province. May they all rest in peace.

I am not suggesting that this problem is limited to Saudi Arabia or just to Arab countries. However, unfortunately, we suffer more from it

Mshari al-Thaydi

‘Traffic terrorism’

Describing what’s happening as “traffic terrorism” is not a media exaggeration but a term used by an expert. Colonel Dr. Zuhair bin Abdul Rahman Sharf, director of regulations at the Madinah traffic department, used the term while delivering a lecture in March 2014.

According to the Saudi daily Al-Eqtisadiah, he said the number of victims of traffic recklessness in Saudi Arabia has exceeded the number of victims of many wars, including the Croatian war of independence which number of victims reached 82,000.

According to the statistics provided by the General Authority for Statistics in 2015, the number of traffic accidents in Riyadh – which incidentally is more than the rest of Riyadh’s administrative regions – reached more than 145,000 in one year.

I am not suggesting that this problem is limited to Saudi Arabia or just to Arab countries. It’s a global problem. However, unfortunately, we suffer more from it. We know there are legislative efforts, with the use of technology, to combat this menace but we want more and more.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on January 30, 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.

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