Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Drive Me Crazy

I hope you don't mind if I take a moment out of the current seasonally themed blogathon to air one of my major current grievances; pardon, too, any language not usually seen in these genteel premises.

In short, driving in Our Fair Sultanate is going to hell in a handbasket, and if something isn't done about the absolute fuckwits who make up what seems to be an ever-increasing proportion of local drivers, the already insane national traffic-fatality statistics (I've heard estimates that they are up to forty times most developed countries) are going to continue to skyrocket.

When we arrived here some years ago, aside from a plague of idiotic young men driving ridiculous cars bought for them with daddy's money, it was actually possible to get around from place to place without risking, at best, a heart attack, or, at worst, a grisly, gory death. No more. A simple run to the supermarket can allow you to witness a veritable catalogue of motorized assholery - not just your garden variety speeding, unexpected U-turns, or tailgating (although all of those are commonplace). Oh, no - I'm talking things like people deciding to pass into oncoming traffic just to prove, apparently, that theirs is bigger than yours; or family cars, loaded down with a dozen small children milling about in the backseat, roaring along at top speed on the shoulder of a packed highway; or death-wish driven shitheads inching into traffic to execute what turns into a fish-tailing left turn with brakes and horns squealing as a dozen other drivers have to slam on the brakes, and...

I mean, what gives? This is a placid, almost chokingly polite place, one in which voices are rarely raised, tidiness reigns supreme, and most people - local nationals and expatriates alike - seem to have bought into the kind of public demeanor that can make it feel like living in Stepfordistan. But put these very same people behind the wheel, and they turn into rejects from The Wacky Races, only without the cartoonish immortality.

When it reached the point that the Big Man himself, His Majesty, had to give a sharp scolding to the general public earlier this year, I thought things might improve. That was followed by the putting up of large and prominently placed billboards, with his smiling face accompanied by boldfaced declarations of the people's obedience to his wise advice. I'd like to meet those people, 'cause they're sure not on the roads.


  1. Leaving in morning before the sun comes up to head into work is my way around avoiding wank drivers. I am on pins and needles wondering if my kids make it safely to school every day. I can't possibly drive them to school at 6 a.m. - no latch key programs here for working parents. Working later than I'm supposed to just to avoid the afternoon madness really...bites.

    I wish *someone* would do something about it because it's getting worse by the day. I can't handle daily heart-attacks much longer and I'm sick of being a hermit in my house on the weekends to avoid the roads.

    I wish we could do 'citizens arrest', but for traffic offenses...

  2. its really a police support slogan - 'Yes Your Majesty (we) will stop road accidents'

  3. Well, okay, then - I'd settle for seeing traffic cops who actually enforce traffic laws. Right now, as far as I can see, the only thing stopping road accidents is the purely notional fear of fines on the motorway, with its radar and cameras. Aside from that, it's open season for speed-demons and flat-out eedjits...

  4. Well, I should add now a new wish to my list of wishes for 2010 that you don't even think of writing a post about traffic in Cairo.

  5. Your tale sounds all too familiar of drivers in Bangkok. Thais are one of the most polite people, but behind the wheel...jeez. As a consequence I do not drive here. Any accident would be my fault anyway, 'cos I'm a foreigner, and I can pay. The only blessing is that traffic is so congested, that in town it is rare to see speeding. But it's a different story on the highways.