Traf­fic au­thor­i­ties tak­ing a higher pro­file

Oman Daily Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

It’s good to see the Royal Oman Po­lice (ROP) mak­ing traf­fic en­force­ment a higher pri­or­ity over re­cent months, as more po­lice ve­hi­cles ap­pear to be pa­trolling our high­ways. Speed­ing, dan­ger­ous and care­less driv­ing, seat belts, and cell-phone use be­hind the wheel be­ing just a few areas of non­com­pli­ance that re­quire dili­gence.

I did no­tice this year in New Zealand that some po­lice ve­hi­cles in poor driver com­pli­ance areas are now high-vis­i­bil­ity orange, and pro­vide a very vis­i­ble re­minder to driv­ers of road safety. How would bright green, orange or yel­low work in Oman I won­der?

Road speed lim­its are not just a ran­dom de­ter­mi­na­tion, but have ex­ten­sive cri­te­ria to sat­isfy, de­pen­dent ini­tially upon the ba­sis of engi­neer­ing, with shape, type, sur­face and pro­file all piv­otal to the process. Lo­ca­tion and ac­cess points such as slip roads, in­ter­sec­tions, en­trances, ex­its and con­trib­u­tory traf­fic flow in­flu­ences such as signs and traf­fic lights.

Ac­ci­dent his­to­ries can be a fac­tor, with ‘black spots’ draw­ing speed re­duc­tions, radar assess­ments and even test driv­ing, all fac­tors that make up the traf­fic au­thor­i­ties de­ci­sions.

Re­cent re­search in the United States has noted that road speed eval­u­a­tions based on a tech­ni­cal as­sess­ment of an 85th per­centile is the norm, which means that there is prob­a­bly even a global ac­cep­tance that 15 per cent of road users ex­ceed the speed limit.

Do you drive at the speed limit, or do you some­times drive faster than the speed limit if the ma­jor­ity of the traf­fic is go­ing faster? I of­ten face this same ques­tion when I am driv­ing in, and at times of high traf­fic flows. So it’s pos­si­ble that you are of­ten in the same sit­u­a­tion. It’s ac­tu­ally quite scary, no mat­ter where you are on the road, to be do­ing ex­actly the speed on the signs, and to have other driv­ers speed­ing past, dodg­ing around you, toot­ing, honk­ing, tail­gat­ing, and gen­er­ally bul­ly­ing you, for be­ing law­ful.

Yes, I know. Some among you will say that if you’re driv­ing too slow, that you are more un­safe than they are, and they are of­ten cor­rect, but to in­tim­i­date when you are stick­ing to the limit is ex­tremely dan­ger­ous.

The re­al­ity is that of­ten, driv­ers will feel that they must ex­ceed the signs, in keep­ing them­selves out of trou­ble with other mo­torists how­ever that re­al­ity then in­creases the pos­si­bil­ity of traf­fic of­fences, and for many, usu­ally in­ex­pe­ri­enced or older driv­ers taken out of their com­fort zones, there is a greater dan­ger of driver er­ror.

The safe, le­git­i­mate and wise con­clu­sion is that driv­ers should be mind­ful of the speed lim­its at all times, af­ter all, we don’t want an­ar­chy on the roads, do we? The re­al­ity is that more than 1.5 mil­lion driv­ers around the world die in road ac­ci­dents ( WHO statis­tics), and no­body wants to end their lives as a statis­tic, do they?

Which brings me to yet an­other gripe on our roads. Traf­fic calm­ing ini­tia­tives by lo­cal au­thor­i­ties here are be­com­ing more and more reliant on ‘speed bumps’ or ‘sleep­ing po­lice­men’ in an ef­fort to re­duce traf­fic speeds in ur­ban areas.

How­ever, with no com­mon tem­plate for the height or pro­file of these ob­struc­tions, it is turn­ing some driv­ing routes into a pass­able im­i­ta­tion of a mo­tocross track.

My drive to work each day in­cludes five such ob­struc­tions, and some driv­ers come to a full stop, prior to driv­ing over them, while oth­ers take an oblique ap­proach, ac­tu­ally cross­ing at an an­gle onto the wrong side of the road, though all are forced to at least ne­go­ti­ate the bump at a very much re­duced speed.

I re­ally feel that the vi­bra­tor strips some­times used lead­ing to open road round­abouts would be a much bet­ter traf­fic calm­ing in­flu­ence, don’t you?

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