It’s good to see the Royal Oman Police (ROP) making traffic enforcement a higher priority over recent months, as more police vehicles appear to be patrolling our highways. Speeding, dangerous and careless driving, seat belts, and cell-phone use behind the wheel being just a few areas of non-compliance that require diligence.
I did notice this year in New Zealand that some police vehicles in poor driver compliance areas are now high-visibility orange, and provide a very visible reminder to drivers of road safety. How would bright green, orange or yellow work in Oman I wonder?
Road speed limits are not just a random determination, but have extensive criteria to satisfy, dependent initially upon the basis of engineering, with shape, type, surface and profile all pivotal to the process. Location and access points such as slip roads, intersections, entrances, exits and contributory traffic flow influences such as signs and traffic lights.
Accident histories can be a factor, with ‘black spots’ drawing speed reductions, radar assessments and even test driving, all factors that make up the traffic authorities decisions.
Recent research in the United States has noted that road speed evaluations based on a technical assessment of an 85th percentile is the norm, which means that there is probably even a global acceptance that 15 per cent of road users exceed the speed limit.
Do you drive at the speed limit, or do you sometimes drive faster than the speed limit if the majority of the traffic is going faster? I often face this same question when I am driving in, and at times of high traffic flows. So it’s possible that you are often in the same situation. It’s actually quite scary, no matter where you are on the road, to be doing exactly the speed on the signs, and to have other drivers speeding past, dodging around you, tooting, honking, tailgating, and generally bullying you, for being lawful.
Yes, I know. Some among you will say that if you’re driving too slow, that you are more unsafe than they are, and they are often correct, but to intimidate when you are sticking to the limit is extremely dangerous.
The reality is that often, drivers will feel that they must exceed the signs, in keeping themselves out of trouble with other motorists however that reality then increases the possibility of traffic offences, and for many, usually inexperienced or older drivers taken out of their comfort zones, there is a greater danger of driver error.
The safe, legitimate and wise conclusion is that drivers should be mindful of the speed limits at all times, after all, we don’t want anarchy on the roads, do we? The reality is that more than 1.5 million drivers around the world die in road accidents (WHO statistics), and nobody wants to end their lives as a statistic, do they?
Which brings me to yet another gripe on our roads. Traffic calming initiatives by local authorities here are becoming more and more reliant on ‘speed bumps’ or ‘sleeping policemen’ in an effort to reduce traffic speeds in urban areas.
However, with no common template for the height or profile of these obstructions, it is turning some driving routes into a passable imitation of a motocross track.
My drive to work each day includes five such obstructions, and some drivers come to a full stop, prior to driving over them, while others take an oblique approach, actually crossing at an angle onto the wrong side of the road, though all are forced to at least negotiate the bump at a very much reduced speed.
I really feel that the vibrator strips sometimes used leading to open road roundabouts would be a much better traffic calming influence, don’t you?