The recent piece of news about a motorist who knocked down a pedestrian in Al Ain being instructed by the Civil Appeals Court in the emirate to pay Dh600,000 to the victim is an eye-opener for those of us who take road civic sense for granted. The victim, in his lawsuit, stated that he was crossing a road when the motorist, who was driving recklessly, knocked him down.
In the UAE, there is a lot of awareness about matters such as rash driving, road rage etc; but some of us who sit behind the wheel and press on the gas even while zigzagging through areas that have zebra crossings and traffic lights seem to believe that road safety is a domain inhabited only for vehicle-owners.
Giving a pedestrian right of way at designated areas is a given in this country, and yet many of us — who have been on foot — have frequently encountered cars or other vehicles that are in no mood to comply with this regulation. Of course, there are also an equal number of drivers who graciously stop and give way, and it’s a display of good manners for a pedestrian, for his or her part, to acknowledge the act by raising his or her hand as a gesture of appreciation.
It has to be a give and take for roads in the UAE to be absolutely safe, in a manner that befits the wonderful infrastructure and top-notch quality of roads this country has to offer. As a motorist, feeling responsible towards the other party — whether it is a fellow motorist or a pedestrian — is definitely a start.
Even if someone is in a tearing hurry and feels compelled to speed up just to avoid stopping for a few seconds to allow another person to cross, they should, on reflex, slow down and then stop.
On the flip side, there are cases of pedestrians jaywalking. While there is a stiff penalty for jaywalking, it shouldn’t be the idea of a penalty that should make us more law-abiding. We need to realise the efficacy of existing in a society where people have sound civic sense and go one step extra to ensure that even if something is slightly inconvenient, it should be adhered to because it is for common good and public safety. There is this debate on how people react differently when they are in a car, and when they are walking on the road.
When you are in a car, you cannot “tolerate” pedestrians because they are coming in your way; when you are a pedestrian, you cannot “tolerate” the cars that appear to be tearing down at you. A heightened level of empathy is always good: put yourself in the other party’s shoes.
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