Blood on the streets: We witnessed 6 car accidents in 2 days

This is something outside the spectrum of Freegan Kolektiva, but I want to share the shock I received the past two days from witnessing six (!!!) road accidents in just two days (16th and 17th December 2011).

We did not spend much time on the road, we just did the distance Faitroun – Beirut (Hamra) and back, one time each day (2 times in total). That is only 140 km altogether. This exceeds all the accidents I have witnessed in my whole life prior to the last 2 days!

When you look at the roads and the way people drive it is not a big surprise. There are multiple factors that result to this situation:

  1. Infrastructure: The roads are like open graves: there are multiple engineering errors. There are no white lines that divide the two currents (Faitroun – Nahr El Kalb), there are no marks at the side of the roads where it is full of holes and ditches, there are no proper lights in the night etc. The very design of the roads is wrong, the turns etc. The roads are not properly maintained as well.
  2. Ways of driving: Few respect the codes of traffic, flash when turning or changing lanes is as rare as an exception. Moreover, there is no fast lane, people just pass randomly from right or left with high speed without any use of flash. The list of wrongdoings is virtually endless.
  3. Big roads, no safety:  From Faitroun to Nahr El Kalb, there is a broad road that gives the possibility of driving with high speed, but on the other hand there are no lanes, signs, lights etc. That is a deadly cocktail.
  4. General disrespect: The reality of the roads in Lebanon is brutal: few respect the fellow citizens driving on the very same roads. The point of driving is to arrive fast and safe to your destination. The aforementioned attitude fails in both, nobody goes really fast, because cars are stuck since everybody drives randomly (no fast lane) and eventually gets stuck by a car in front are in general traffic. More importantly, some people never arrive to their destination, they die on the streets. I personally do not support blind obedience to the general rules but that requires more consciousness, not less! I do not care about following  the regulations strictly, but that requires respect and responsibility. Lack of respect towards your fellow people, lack of responsibility towards your own community coupled with indiscipline is pure chaos, an ugly and brutal jungle rule of the fittest.
  5. Too many cars: There is no traffic regulation; more and more cars are released on the streets without a plan. Traffic jams are getting out of hand. Moreover, there is no alternative, since here is no proper public transport.
  6. Xmas rush: There is a restlessness and rush during the pre-xmas, x-mas period. People try to do everything in a limited time: get presents, go out, buy clothes for your public appearances, see your friends, family etc. There is also the party spirit. Then, driving goes crazy to manage all that.
  7. Private vs. public 1 – 0: The public is withering while the private is flourishing. Big, expensive 4-wheel drives on ‘bombed’ streets next to old crock buses. That is the picture.

All this maybe explains partly this great numbers of accidents. People seem not take driving seriously but it is not funny: we are talking about dead and injured on the streets. For people like me, who see roads and cars as just means to arrive to your destination, it is not an enjoyable experience (there are people that see driving as a game itself e.g. racing on the streets given the lack of other interests).

In 2007 there were 4,421 traffic accidents (497 dead/6266 injured) while in 2008 there were 4,470 traffic accidents (478 dead/6882 injured) in Lebanon [1]. Road accidents increase 12-17% per year [2].

Since Lebanon has the worst record in traffic accidents in the Arab world [1], people should wake up  and demand improvement of the road infrastructure, better road maintenance, design of effective and safe public transport and creation of alternatives like the use of bicycles etc. Moreover, I would suggest everyone to take ti easy, enjoy the routes while respecting the fellow citizens and why not, even assist them so that everybody can go home safe and easy.

[1] Malek Mohamed Misbah (2010). Retrieved on 18-12-2011 from: http://al-shorfa.com/cocoon/meii/xhtml/en_GB/features/meii/features/main/2010/01/27/feature-02

[2] The Daily Star (2010). Retrieved on 18-12-2011 from: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/Jun/25/Car-accidents-in-Lebanon-up-by-at-least-12-percent.ashx#ixzz1gtBO8KMy

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