Just an Opinion [Archives:1999/51/Focus]

December 20 1999

By Mohammed Khidhr

One of the eye-catching phenomena in the capital Sanaa is the speed of driving in downtown, to the extent that one can not be sure he will not be run over by a speedy car, however alert you may be. The majority of motorists seem to pay no heed to any speed-limit, and don’t even bother themselves to turn their eyes to the speedometer fitted in their cars. Sometimes all of a sudden you hear the loud screech of a vehicle’s wheels, and discover that you were about to be hit by a vehicle as the driver was trying to bring it to a halt. He barely perceived that he was going to run you over, and stopped at the last moment. Pedestrians are instructed by traffic rules to cross the street at the points where zebra lines are painted. But abiding by these rules would not spare them from the chance of being hit by a speedy car. While waiting for the safest moment to cross the street, one notices that motorists, approaching those lines, would intentionally increase their speed, which makes you back off and wait for a longer time until you are quite sure that the street is safely clear of any car. This might take you quite some time before it is safe to cross.
There may be many explanations for this abnormal phenomenon, but the most striking of them all is that motorists like these are disrespectful of traffic rules and the ethics of driving motor cars. Their reckless driving can also be attributed to imbalance in their nervous system because otherwise they would think of the consequences of their behavior, whether on themselves or on others. But the fact is that they do not care about others and even about themselves and their cars, all of which represent a national wealth that we must keep intact.
Competent authorities, particularly traffic personnel, should pay more attention to this very dangerous phenomenon by adopting more strict rules and measures, especially in granting driving licenses. Psychological analysis is one of the most important tests applicants for driving licenses must be put to, just to find out how they would deal with this machine while running it. Those who prove to be psychologically incompetent should not be given a license even if they prove to be good in handling a car mechanically and have good knowledge of the traffic signs and other tests.
People, whether motorists or pedestrians, are very valuable national resources we are not ready to squander or lose. The state spends huge amounts of money to provide health care, education and numerous other services for the people. Taking care of them and securing their welfare is thus an imperative.
We at the Yemen Times weekly still remember poignantly and bitterly the tragic car accident which snatched the founder of the newspaper the late Professor Abdulaziz Al Saqqaf from among us in such a regrettable fashion. Dr. Al Saqqaf was not only the founder, publisher and chief editor of the newspaper, he was furthermore a prominent social figure and the leading advocate of human rights in Yemen and elsewhere in the Arab homeland and the world at large. He was one of the victims of irrational and irresponsible behavior of some motorists in the streets of our cities and we cite him as an example of the major losses suffered by our society of not only outstanding figures but also of every person in our country whose potentials and energies we are in dire need of, in order to build a better and prosperous future for our country. Citing and naming all of the people we have lost in car accidents would require very long lists and cause us very great sorrow, but by giving examples of these incidents we intend to remind and appeal to everyone to be careful of our human wealth, because it is not easy to replace.
On the other hand, cars and other types of vehicles cost the state budget very large amounts of hard currency every year and this is wealth the state is also not ready to part with. Therefore, providing protection to both human and material wealth should be the primary objectives we all have to contribute to protect and develop. Motorists should have the largest share in the process of protecting the national wealth and resources by mainly observing traffic rules and through this they would also save their own lives and money. Traffic policemen and regulations are there to assist people in protecting and guiding themselves, that is why we must not take the advantage of their inattention to commit traffic offenses.
This is an invitation to traffic authorities to introduce more deterrent measures against traffic offenses on the one hand, and to our compatriots the motorists to abide by driving ethics and morals for the common interests of all.