I had been dreading driving lately. I know the topic of Lebanese driving has been covered over and over everywhere; just run a small Google search and see for yourself. But driving has become particularly frustrating. All those stories I have been hearing about people getting hit by cars and fatal accidents happening on the Lebanese streets made me nervous. It seemed to me that during the past few months, the drivers of Lebanon have become even more careless, paid less attention and lacked any sense of decency, more so than before. This blog post lays it down much more eloquently than I could
This is why I was happy to hear of new laws and regulations being set in place to force your average Lebanese driver to use his/her brain while on the road, and take into consideration the fact that we are not alone on the streets, and that believe it or not, we do not in fact own those streets we drive on.
However, many questions come to mind about these laws, and I hope that with time, they will be answered and clarified.
My first concern is whether this will really and seriously be enforced. We’re used to driving regulations being enforced for a while and then completely forgotten about (ie seatbelt), only to have everyone go back to their old ways as soon as the last ticket is given out. If we’re ever going to organize the way people drive here, consistency is needed. This means that I will get a ticket every single time I break the law, and not just during certain seasons.
Another issue is if we’re focusing on the issue of speeding, why aren’t there any signs that disclose speeding limits on most streets? I once tried to find out the limit on the highway leading up north, and it’s only until I got to the middle of it that I saw a sign that said “80”. The explanation so far is 50KM on every street where nothing else is put, and 100KM on the highways.
Many more come to mind. Will the money be used for better roads? Will people who have connections be able to get out of paying their tickets? Are the rates for the tickets really as high as the rumors have mentioned?
Driving is an issue that really matters to me. It is something that we do every single day, without realizing how dangerous it can be if not done correctly. I understand the reasons (well, the good ones at least) behind all of this, as the amount of accidents that have happened this year is unbelievable. However, I believe the effort should come from both sides. Citizens should be more considerate on the road, and follow the laws. But we should also expect better road conditions from our authorities.
I see those new traffic radars as an opportunity for sanity on Lebanese roads, but we shouldn’t forget that a lot can go wrong with this.
what the hell is going on here?
Driving has been more of an annoyance than just a mode of transportation.
It has been said that we’re good drivers due to the fact that we drive like crazy people, therefore gain reflexes to avoid undesired accidents. However, I think that the Lebanese people have an unbearable and unjustified attitude when it comes to driving. To be eligible for a Lebanese driver’s license, the following should apply to you:
The first one happened when I was in Saudi two weeks ago. We had stopped for a red light, and I noticed that people had left the far right lane empty. It was open for all those who want to go to the right. This may appear normal to anyone, but it was just amazing to me. I am used to have a bunch of cars coming and blocking what is supposed to be an unblocked way to the right, because they want to stop at the very front and immediately move when the light turns green (if they have chosen to stop for the red light, that is). But no, that’s not what the Saudis did, they left it open for whoever needs to use it.
The second happened a few days ago in Beirut. I was in the passenger seat, and my friend parked the car and went to get something. Even though the way the car was parked wasn’t perfect, the road was wide enough for a Jeep to pass. I was waiting for her to come back, when I found a car parked right next to me, therefore blocking the road, and honking like crazy. The girl in it, what with her large sunglasses and very fancy car, just stopped to yell at me. She was able to pass (actually, the road was freakin WIDE), there were cars behind her, but she wanted to stop and start yelling. What’s funny is that I was in the passenger seat, I wasn’t the one who parked the car.
I think the reason we drive like that is supported by our road and transportation systems. Chaos will never create order; it will create more chaos.
The first and most important thing that should be organized is driving tests and the process to get a driving’s license. People must absolutely take a driving’s test. I do not know of any other country where getting your driver’s license means just going to pick it up. When we start forcing our citizens to learn how to drive and take the damn test, they will then learn the rules of driving safely and start being more sane. Last I heard they were organizing it, although I still hear of people getting licenses without taking the test.
The second thing is enforcing the laws. Every year, they enforce them for a short period of time, and then back to our old ways. I don’t want to get a ticket if I am not wearing my seat belt once a year, I want a ticket if I’m not wearing my seat belt every single time. I don’t want to be pressured into driving away from the traffic lights by cars honking behind me, I want the cars behind me to find it normal and not at all lame that I’m stopping at a traffic light that is actually totally unnecessary.
Also, what the hell is with the sodeco intersection? Why does it follow the “kil wa7ad bi shatarto” (each with his own skill) rules, when other tiny roads have traffic lights all over the place.
At the same time though, we should be doing our own efforts. Fight the urge to stop and yell at the car next to you and inconvenience everyone behind you, respect the car in front of you’s choice to stop for a red light, let someone else pass every once a while rather than stop just because you have no other options. Driving is more dangerous than flying (this year excluded, it seems), take it seriously and avoid unnecessary moves that you do to make a point, and end up with an unnecessary accident. Make our roads more pleasant to drive on.