Times of Oman
Nov 29, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 02:22 AM GMT
Oman road safety: Do you observe the driving etiquette?
August 21, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Container trailers and other long, heavy vehicles often jeopardise the opportunity of smaller vehicles by blocking traffic junctions when it is their turn to move. Speeding up at signals is also another menace that leads to accidents. File photo

Motorists on Muscat's roads are conversant with the dangerous pranks some egocentric drivers play every day, amid busy traffic, just to indicate who is 'lord of the road'! While some simply love to rule the road, some are always in a hurry and some are oblivious of other vehicles on all adjoining lanes. 

In one such incident recently, two cars were moving very closely, hardly a few inches separated the two running at over 100 kmph on the stretch marked with red and white barricades that gave a clear indication about the works happening on either side of the road. It seemed the two cars would collide at any time. The chaser honked incessantly and flashed lights asking the other to stop his vehicle. The fracas on the wheel continued till the infuriated drivers stopped their cars in the middle of a busy road. Heated arguments ensued with both of them pointing fingers at each other for wrongdoing. They didn't pay attention to hundreds of hapless motorists, stranded during the peak hour of the day. But then, this is the order of the day in Muscat, so very often.

Plenty of disruptions happen on the capital's roads these days, thanks to the havoc created by impatient drivers, who breach speed limits, tailgate vehicles in the front, blare horns, change lanes with out checking the rearview mirrors, show unnecessary haste while approaching the roundabouts…

Not long ago, Oman roads were considered as a motorists' paradise. The disciplined driving culture earned the country a reputation among its counterparts in the Gulf region. Sounding the horn and tailgating were unheard practices and aggression didn't have any takers…Driving was a pleasant experience for one and all!

Have we forgotten driving etiquette over the years? The answer seems to be yes, going by the accidents reported from around the country. A majority of the motorists tend to forget the best driving practices. Thus, driving on a busy street with loud music has turned out to be a fashion statement for youngsters, turning on fog lamps in broad daylight is also an easy way to grab attention; changing lanes without indicators is an ideal way to show off deft manoeuvring skills, and overtaking on a single lane carriageway reveals the love for adrenaline rush!

"We miss driving etiquette these days," opines First Lieutenant Mudhar Abdul Malik Al Mazroui, Head, Training Department, Traffic Safety Institute. "Vehicles are relatively new to Oman as they were introduced in the early '70s. The number of vehicles began to proliferate from 2001. But the drivers are not familiar with the manners to be observed on the road. Internet, Fast food, television are affecting their behaviour."

"It is very difficult to assess the behavioural pattern of the individuals. Omanis are known for their politeness. But when it comes to driving they behave entirely different. If you approach Omani citizens with a request for help, they will be more than willing to assist you. But if you overtake their vehicle, they will begin the fight," Al Mazroui says.

The Traffic Safety Institute is trying to address this issue by conducting awareness programmes. It holds defensive driving practical driving courses to teach young drivers how to behave on the road. It even trains driving instructors on good manners, as they play a vital role in inculcating this habit among their students.

"Driving etiquette should become a part of our life. It is the duty of one and all to be courteous on the road and follow traffic rules. Good manners will drastically reduce the number of road accidents," opines Khalid Yousuf Al Balushi, Chief Safety Officer at the Oman Automobile Association.

He feels that drivers of his generation were careful and were afraid to commit errors. It was a time when drivers were courteous, and stayed alert till they were behind the wheel

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