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This blog contains opinions, experiences, thoughts and observations of the author from his day to day living.
It is subject to comments, criticisms and corrections, and all will be dealt with constructively and do leave your comments I would love to hear from you.
There is no intention to offend, discriminate nor degrade anybody or anything for that matter, only shared feelings, emotions and angsts at the moment.
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Driving Like There's No Tomorrow

I am not quite sure why I am writing about driving when I am not fond of it. Yeah, I was taught by my late father how to drive and so were my brothers but I never got the hang of it, nor the excitement of having the wheel in my hands. They say driving is a necessity, and I agree, I am not sure why I am not enthusiastic about it really, I don't even have a trauma about driving, nevertheless, I am sure I can drive one, maybe after a few "dead engine" stops or in cases of emergencies.
But living in Riyadh provided a different backdrop in the things I would like to say about driving, safely at that. I just read a reader's comment in the local newspaper about "reckless, lack of awareness in driving that causes the rise in road accidents," and it is already a fact that Saudi had been one of the "worst places to drive, and has the highest road accident statistic in the world."
Back home, drivers make the concious effort of doing their thing right, by following most rules and safety precautions or else a well hidden traffic patrol policeman will be waiting for them at the next corner or stop.
We Filipinos are still afraid of our traffic laws, not to mention having a car accident that either kills or disables. In Riyadh, maybe because the roads are so wide it would fit 5 cars the most side by side going one direction, that "locals" and those expats who already followed the Saudi way of driving, does not care much about road rules and safety. They probably thought they are masters of car racing video games that they thought they are in a real one. They rush through traffic like they are playing; swerving, dodging, racing sometimes at full speed like there's no tomorrow! It is a scary sound to hear a racing car pass by you on the road, seeing them disappear in front of you in a second! Specially when the locals were driving fancy sports car that I can only see on TV and on magazines like Lamborghinis and Ferraris and those whose names I am not familiar event (but my sister Ivy who is a talented driver and knows much about these things would say that those whose names are not familiar are the very expensive and special ones), yes, a display of luxury cars driven like crazy will entice, entertain and amaze you.
The sad part is that sometimes you will see police cars along the street and just watch them pass by, or maybe I am wrong in that account, I would assume they just did their job, saw the plate number and reported it back to their office through the hi-tech tracking system they have in the car laptops, checked the plate registration, sent an SMS message to the owner about the violation and voila, the "majnun" have to pay immediately otherwise the violation penalty would double the following week, and triple and so on. However, I rarely see speeding cars being chased or cars being heralded to stop for a violation. Yes, there are visible patrol cars, are they really there?
I do hope also that they would implement a stricter driving rules by preventing minors, yes minors between 12 to 17, who drove without any supervision and risks their lives and others' once they are on the road. I have heard about some parents allowing their minor children to drive, especially the mothers, who needed to go out and the husbands are at work. They would tell their young kids to drive them to the mall or supermarket, and then there are rumors that policemen does not apprehend these young drivers for fear that the mothers would make a scene, and here in Riyadh when a woman makes a scene, you better watch out! As it is "haram" or forbidden for men to interact with women besides their own mothers, sisters or wives.
Once I was walking home and I passed by a large parking lot and I saw a car moving, I did not immediately see the driver as it was a bit far from me, then as it approaches I saw a little man driving, or so I thought, and when it passed by me, it was not a man, he was a kid, probably a little older than 10, all smiling as if telling me "look, how cool I am driving this big car."
Bursting tempers and easily irritated drivers also abound the streets of Riyadh, for as small issue as not giving way would send their blood pressures to breaking points! Yet they themselves are guilty of such petty actions, I would like to blame the hot weather, but I am thinking this is their "way" that it is an inert trait that they should always have their way at every cost.
Again, these views are mere observations and I am sure there are resposible, well-mannered, cool and careful drivers in this country and I also think driving is a responsibility one should take seriously, for once on the road, if you are alone, you owe it to yourself to arrive safely to where you are heading, and if you have passengers, just think of the lives that may be lost if you drive like you owe the devil your soul.

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