Car accidents become norm in our society [Archives:2003/648/Community]

July 7 2003

Iayan Mohammed
For the Yemen Times

Two years driving experience, outstanding sense of confidence, and a hot ride to accompany this geyser of adrenaline.
Speeding, doing hundred and twenty kilometers per hour, with sound system to rival a rock concert and a pair of sunglasses at 8:30 in the evening. Then, a shriek, a shock and a near heart attack later, Mr. I've-Got-It-Going-On crashed into a taxi.
Now this is nothing special, you don't need to buy a newspaper to read this, you've probably heard this from your friends, colleagues and family. Our society doesn't see car accidents as horrific events, they don't praise them either, but our society has become indifferent to a car accident. A car accident has become as mundane as picking up your laundry or going to a qat chewing gathering. Has a car accident become a norm of our modern Yemeni society?
As a driver of 2 years, I have had five car accidents, which is a reasonable number. However, one should take into account that I live in England, I come to Yemen for holidays, spending an average of 3 to 4 months in Yemen. However, I can claim an eclectic mix, from hitting a parked car to being part to a car flipping over into a ditch. Now, if I decided to tell the stories of my car accidents to people in England, disbelief is the common reaction. Many claimed me insane, brave, but a concrete reaction is that I am an awful driver. However, when I tell the events of each of my car accidents, they don't create any commotion, almost immediately, a few people have stories to topple mine, and make my car stories look like losing my milk teeth. My car accidents are scary, terrifying and traumatic experience within themselves, but they are nothing special, normal. Many can claim insecurity on my part for not having my voice heard, but this doesn't apply to me only. Out of many of my friends and acquaintances that I have, few of their car accidents amount to anything special. Just going to a list of possible and frequent car accidents, like hitting a taxi or dabbab or a Hilux, have happened to us all. So, what merits damage, fear and dread in car accidents?
Overall, any life lost in a car accident generates fear. If two cars collide, and a life is lost it is a petrifying and heartbreaking event. Yet, what gets the people's attention and creates the buzz that gets everyone talking in fear and sadness, this divides into two occurrences. The first is if the car flips over. The chance of a death is at highest when a car flips over, and it is the most costly to recover. Stories about car flipping over in accidents tender to cover to a life lost or a broken arm to a pierced eye. Besides, most cars in Yemen are four wheel drives, and are at a higher risk of flipping over. The second occurrence is if you run over someone, especially if it is a kid. Many people are injured or killed by, in most often cases, a reckless, speedy driver.
It is inarguable that car accident is tragic. Most people realize that it is indeed a scary thing, however, we don't live in a country where it is
rare. We live in a country that when parents give their children the car keys they strongly believe that there is a chance that their children will die.
We live in a country where traffic regulation is weak, and is regularly challenged. So accidents have become a norm in our society and seem that's how we deal with them. If we lingered on each accident, we'd never be able to drive, we'd never be able to walk in the streets. If we didn't adapt we might as well destroy cars altogether because that would be the only fastest solution.