What turns even amiable people into road monsters

Special to Times of Oman

There is a common misconception that all road users suffer from what is widely termed "road rage". This is the condition that turns very normal people from any culture or background into a frightening demon behind the wheel of a car.

Yes, I know that we all have our moments of frustration or anguish whilst negotiating traffic or road works but many of us are able to endure the unenviable conditions found on the roads of Oman without even raising an eyebrow, let alone breaking out into a demonic rage.

How is it possible that there is such disparity between seemingly educated, normally meek mannered and experienced drivers in Oman?

It is a matter of understanding common courtesy and acceptance of the fact that there are some drivers who appear to enjoy the less chivalrous methods of driving.

All too often during my travels around the region I see drivers forcing their way out of junctions when the traffic signs clearly indicate the right of way falls to other drivers, or push in at the last moment where our main travel routes merge from three lanes into two or in some cases, one.

I have even seen drivers creating up to four of their own "lanes" in Ruwi in an attempt to overcome the dire traffic situation there.

The inherent lack of journey or route planning is another factor in the creation of sudden changes in the tempo of the traffic which in turn causes road users to turn on their hazard lights as the traffic grinds to an unnecessary halt and all because a driver who travels the same route every day to work is trying to outsmart his fellow commuters by lane hopping and who then invariably ends up in the wrong lane just meters from his turn off and then pushes across everyone without so much as using an indicator or waving a hand of acknowledgement in apology for his poor driving skills.

These are but a few of the everyday driving practices we see throughout this otherwise beautiful and blessed country.

If we could all manage our time better, leave a few minutes earlier for our destinations, planned and remembered our well-worn routes, used the indicators, which are a no cost standard option on all vehicles and displayed a little more common courtesy in allowing drivers to use the space we have left in front of our car as per the highway code for safety reasons instead of creeping forward to prevent them from joining the never ending stream of vehicles on our roads, then we might all feel better on arrival at our destinations. It would certainly make for a less stressful environment and ease the pressure on our stretched emergency services and insurance companies.

Good manners and common courtesy cost nothing and in a country where this is clearly an integral part of its culture, this should come as second nature to its drivers, but sadly it doesn't in far too many cases.

There really is no need to be angry, arrogant or ignorant behind the wheel, in fact there is no place for it at all. If we all tried taking the proverbial "step back", and let that minority of road rage fools in front of us in the queue and acknowledged those kind drivers who do let us out of the junction or into the flow of traffic with a friendly nod or brief wave, we might well end up on the road to a safer and more peaceful journey and set the right example to our youth and the drivers of tomorrow.

To those that can indeed remain calm and relaxed in the face of adversity and in spite of all the mayhem, damage and delays caused by the impatient, angry and poorly skilled element of Oman's drivers, I salute you!

The author is the former UK Fire and Rescue Officer with more than 24 years experience and previously a Chief Fire Officer at the Fire College in Seeb, Muscat. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.


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