Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Traffic Laws

I, personally, applaud the the new traffic laws that went into effect on Monday. It is one small step in a much needed overhaul of the driving that takes place on roads, here. However, making and implementing new laws are one thing, while actually enforcing the new laws is quite another. It would appear as though Saudi adopted a point system similar to what is used in the States. But the article, covering some of the changes that have been put into effect, is confusing; I suspect the new traffic rules and laws are just that - confusing - as well.

"To answer the growing problem of young Saudi men engaging in dangerous stunt-driving maneuvers - as well as the arbitrary nature by which this crime has been punished due to the lack of codified punishment - joy riding will now automatically result in up to one year in prison and/or a minimum SR1,000 fine." There is a rule for first-time offenders and second-time offenders and for third-time offenders. But what is "dangerous stunt-driving?" Is it when someone makes his own lane? [Break down areas on the sides of highways here aren't really break-down areas - they are extra highway lanes!] Is it when someone does the infamous "Saudi swing" across three or four lanes of traffic? How has "dangerous stunt-driving" been defined?

Incredibly enough, the new traffic law is not gender specific. But this does not necessarily mean that women are allowed to drive, either. According to Maj Gen Fahd Al Bishr, director general of Saudi Traffic Department, "There is no provision in the new traffic law, which came into force on Monday, that prevents women from driving vehicles. ...The new law speaks only about the driver of the vehicle, and there is no specification of either man or woman. As far as driving of women are concerned, we are not bothering about it. ...the issue of driving right for women has nothing to do with the Traffic Department." So, no department or governing body is ready to come right out and say either women can drive or women cannot drive. No one wants to shoulder that responsibility one way or another and each department and governing authority continues to pass the proverbial buck...

The new driving laws also impose penalties on violations "such as throwing garbage or cigarette butts on the streets, or using mobile phone while driving." Right. Same driving laws for everyone? Or are the new laws going to apply to mostly ex-pats? And, by including a littering provision, are all the street cleaners going to be put out of their jobs? This will cause the contractors employing these men to lose a great deal of income. I will be shocked and amazed if the littering provision is enforced. And no one is going to be able to pry mobile phones off of the ears of Saudi drivers. It will never happen...

I have serious doubts about the new and improved traffic rules and laws being enforced... It is great to say that "these are the rules," but if they are NOT going to be enforced - and only time will tell - then what, exactly, is the purpose of issuing new rules?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Site Meter