It’s a couple of years since I had a go at the standard of driving in Oman, so I guess I’m due for a rant.
First, and I only found out about this last week, back in September, a well-known, 21-year-old model and ‘media influencer’ was fined, and her car, a Mercedes Benz c63 AMG Sports, impounded for posting on social media platform Snapchat a short video of herself driving at 203 kmph. She was fined RO 1,000 for speeding offences accumulated over the previous year, so for that one offence, she got little more than a ‘slap on the wrist’.
How can a ‘media influencer’ be so devoid of common-sense, first to drive so fast, then to take a video while driving, then post it on the media?
So what’s the definition of a media influencer? A leading European company says, “A social media influencer is a user on social media who has established credibility in a specific environment. A social media influencer has access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach.”
The key element here, and the clue is surely in the word ‘influencer’ is persuade. They persuade other young people to do the things they do, like the things they like, eat the things they eat, wear the things they wear, and buy the things they buy. In other words, they persuade others to make the same decisions as they do. Well, I just wonder how many impressionable other young people have tried to make their car go just as fast? Can you just imagine if someone crashed, while motivated by the ‘influencer’s escapades?
Now let me be very clear here. If you want to speed and kill yourself, that’s absolutely fine by me, but the moment any other vehicle, its occupants, pedestrians or bystanders are endangered by your speeding, careless or dangerous driving, then you should face the direst consequences of the law.
The CEO of the Oman Road Safety Association, Ali al Barwani, hit the nail on the head last year when he said, “Social media is a common place for youngsters trying to impress their friends and peers, but there’s a flipside to committing such acts: losing your life and possibly also causing death and injury to others. The ROP law forbids using a mobile phone while driving. But people still fidget with it (sic) and take videos of things that happen around them. As an influencer, you must use your power to create a positive change.”
The current, common, practice of using mobile phones while driving, must also end now, before someone (else) dies.
The number of people doing so at the moment is appalling. But what is most scary, is that it has become more predominant among truck and bus drivers. I drive on the Nizwa-Muscat highway once or twice a week, and the number of truck drivers using phones is very clear, and there are far too many heavy vehicle crashes. Take a drive down our way some time, and see just how many traffic barriers have been crashed into.
Similarly, as I have previously commented, far too many school, college, and university bus drivers use their phones while driving. What sort of lack of care is this? While you are driving a bus, you are the custodian of, thirty or forty of other people’s loved ones. Doesn’t that mean something?
My message for the ROP would be this. You are our guardians, and in our absence, the guardians of our families. I understand that you may not wish to offend people unnecessarily, but please, people using phones, according to the ROP (April 4, 2016), are four times more dangerous than those affected by alcohol.” Please stop this madness and mayhem, now.