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More than once, I had written about the need to add an article to the “disrespected” traffic law – a law that nobody hears or listens to – that forbids the use of a mobile phone while driving a car.
Everyday while we are in our cars or walking on the pavements, we are exposed to death by a “fashionista” or a veiled woman or a young man riding an elevated SUV and smiling while sending a message from his phone to his friend or girlfriend. The same is the case when an Asian taxi driver sends a message from his phone to his customer to inform him that he is about to arrive … and so on.
Although driving requires full concentration, you and your car are likely to face collision, because it is rare to see a driver respecting the traffic laws due to lack of tough deterrence by those who belong to the traffic force unfortunately.
We go back to the issue of non-criminalization of driving while being preoccupied with damned mobile phones. France, from which we took many of our civilized laws, forbids the driver from even looking at his phone while at the red traffic signal.
Traffic laws in some regions prevent the passenger sitting next to the driver from using his mobile phone.
It does not matter to us when so many people in our residential areas drive their cars beyond the speed limit. It does not matter to us that a car does not stop at the STOP sign when it enters a main road from a side road. It does not matter to us that some cars do not have front and rear lights and yet are driven on public roads and pass the traffic patrol officers, most of whom are usually busy with their mobile phones.
Therefore, we hope and request the active director of the General Traffic Department Major General Jamal Al-Sayegh to do everything possible to pass this ban now and not tomorrow.
What prompted me to request the immediate approval of this ban – I am the one who requested it more than once but the Ministry of Interior used to give me the deaf ear – is that one of my close friends fell victim to the lack of approval and enforcement of that law. This friend – whose name will shock you – told me, “On the evening of the tenth day of Ramadan while I was heading to a mosque for Maghrib prayer, I almost met death in the hands of a motorist who was preoccupied with his mobile phone while he was driving. I ended up being the victim, and getting admitted in a hospital due to fractures of my ribs and deep wounds throughout my body. God had saved me from death”.
The time has come to ban the use of mobile phones while driving and to toughen the punishment against the violators of this law so that people do not become victims of this act. Full stop!
This time, the victim of the non-criminalization of the use of a mobile phone while driving is our friend, esteemed colleague and experienced columnist Saud Al-Samakka.
We wish him a speedy recovery, and we wish the esteemed government to respond to his request to criminalize the action of those who caused his injury. We thank God that he escaped death.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil