I can’t wait to get on the road again,” wrote and sang the late Willie Nelson, and most of us do like to get out, and are enthusiastic about, “Goin places that I’ve never been. Seein’ things that I may never see again,” except that we can rarely just drive and see all those places or enjoy being “on the road again” because of the aggression, speed and road brutality inflicted upon us by an impatient and inconsiderate group of road users.
Honestly, how often do we have to be squeezed up by big trucks drifting across the road, buses being driven too fast to meet impossible schedules, and aggressive, hair-raising manoeuvres being undertaken by young and not-so-young men.
“Like a band of gypsies, we go down the highway. We’re the best of friends, insisting that the world keeps turnin’ our way,” certainly seems to be their motto and creed as they drive however they like, to be, and to do, just whatever they like. It’s needless, most un-Omani like, and thoroughly disappointing.
Ever since I arrived in the Sultanate, I’ve faced intimidation and stupidity on the roads, and most frustratingly, there is no need for it. The mobile phone ‘thing’ is still alive and well, and not only on the rural roads, but in the city too. I wonder why, when I can identify the significant number of road-users talking, or texting on their phones while driving, then why can’t the authorities?
Even in little old Birkat Al Mouz, so many people are using their phones while driving. It’s truly appalling. Mums and Dads, taking the kids to school, or going to the shop, just cannot seem to get off their phones. I don’t know what it is honestly, about being behind the wheel, that makes these people think they must talk on their phones. It’s as if their phones cost nothing to use while they are in their cars. No?
I regularly identify drivers who ‘cut’ corners turning left, or who under-steer turning right going onto the wrong side of the road as being on the phone. Get behind a car that’s all over the road, and the driver will be seen to be texting, and get stuck behind one going too slow, and they are probably talking on the phone. And it is reaching epidemic proportions.
This is it. I’m not going to talk (write) about safer roads ever again, because although I get significant feedback and support for my stance, the problem is getting worse, and I’m getting tired of banging my head against the brick wall of indifference.
And we are only a couple of weeks away from seatbelts and car seats. Goodness, if we can’t get rid of mobile phones, how are we ever going to see these young kids and passengers safe? I saw a driver at the local petrol pump last week with three kids, all standing up on the front seat, and another hanging out of a back window as he pulled into the pump.
When I asked if he thought the kids were safe he laughed, and saying, “No problem, only going to Izki (8 km away), they will be okay.” I didn’t get angry, but conversationally asked if he was going to put them in seat belts and seats, he laughed again saying, “It’s not gonna be a problem. We can’t all buy car seats, and ROP will understand.” Phew.
Just two more things: Petrol companies surely have an obligation to provide working air pumps and bathroom facilities at their stations. The standard of both in many stations is abysmal, with most, rather than many, air pumps completely unworkable, and the few bathrooms that are not locked a filthy, dirty, wet, disgusting mess. Come on guys, get your act together, I can’t keep my legs crossed forever.