“I will never understand people. They’re the worst.” So Jerry Seinfeld and Elaine Benes agree in episode 23 of season six of the television show.
Having driven on UAE roads since 2003, I admit there are days when I agree that people are the worst.
I can accept many faux paus when behind the wheel. We are all in a rush; we make poor, split-second decisions; we get frustrated and experience moments of road rage; we lose the battle to our negative, meaner, angrier selves.
But when you arrive at your destination, there is usually a moment of calm that washes over you. Yet it is exactly then that one of the most inconsiderate decisions is made.
I have no other way to characterise those motorists who illegally park in disabled spots than to say they are the worst types of people.
Since the more than 8,000 fines issued to UAE motorists for illegally parking in disabled spots in 2013, there has been an increase in the number of violations.
In 2015, arabianbusiness.com reported that during an 11-month period (January to November), Dubai Police issued more than 10,000 fines for illegally parking in disabled spots.
Kuwait is thinking completely outside the box. In December, arabianbusiness.com reported that as of January 1, 2017, the country — with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world — will jail drivers for a month who park illegally in disabled spots and fine them $655 (KD200). One December 12, 2016, comment on the website responded: “A bit harsh. Just impound and crush the car.”
A stable society owes its strength to its residents buying into the rule of law. It isn’t enough that the law clearly states a particular punishment for a certain violation.
The federal traffic law in the UAE states that illegally parking in a disabled spot could result in a AED1,000 fine and four black points.
So the onus falls on us, the people who drive in the country. But we cannot police our fellow UAE residents. That is a very tricky proposition. Confronting a motorist is a potential minefield of unpredictable aggressive behaviour. No one wants to open themselves to a backlash that could include a verbal assault, a physical confrontation or even a legal entanglement.
The responsibility is on the individual. The job to follow the rule of law should not depend on getting away with something. The only way to expect better behaviour from others is to accept that I must act better.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei said: “Your own acts tell the world who you are and what kind of society you think it should be. One small act is worth a million thoughts.”
When contacted by Arabian Business, Thomas Edelmann, founder and managing director of Road Safety UAE, said: “Illegal parking in disabled spots … [has] a lot to do with the overall lack of road etiquette and politeness, which we unfortunately witness quite a bit in the UAE.”
We are all infallible, we mess up, we stumble. But we must also try to raise the bar when it comes to our behaviour.
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