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A KHAWAGA'S TALE: Hunting down speed racers - Daily News Egypt

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A KHAWAGA'S TALE: Hunting down speed racers

Since moving to Sixth of October, I’ve entered that macabre world that resembles a cheap video arcade lined with racing car games where you swerve in and out of the traffic and end up in a fire ball. There really are some idiots on Cairo’s roads. Now that I am driving, I cannot believe the …


Since moving to Sixth of October, I’ve entered that macabre world that resembles a cheap video arcade lined with racing car games where you swerve in and out of the traffic and end up in a fire ball.

There really are some idiots on Cairo’s roads. Now that I am driving, I cannot believe the level of stupidity which percolates up from the foot pedals to the steering wheel.

Do people think they are extras in a “Mad Max movie or are they just mesmerized by the billboards?

Road rules are all fine, but what about driver education or even driving lessons, which would get Cairenes to follow the road rules.

You have to now carry a first aid kit in your car, which is a “bloody good idea and I am using bloody literally.

Bandages, pressure pads and more bandages is what you need to stop arterial bleeding. Forget ointments, lotions and headache pills, buy more bandages and morphine if you can get your hands on it.

I do not need to list the episodes of idiocy on Cairo’s roads, because we witness them daily and we all use the same few roads. It is not a Ramadan thing either, it is a crazy thing.

Egypt doesn’t even have that many roads. Egypt is almost twice the size of France, with a few highways that plough across the desert in various directions, though it does seem to have most of the world’s billboards.

Six thousand dead, tens of thousands more maimed and disfigured each year. An NGO or the World Health Organization should get onto that if their mission is to improve the lives of Egyptians. Just think of the ripple effect of grief that runs through families when the road claims yet another victim.

Egypt needs a Ladybird Johnson* to wipe the billboards off the road map and a road warrior like Mel Gibson or Arnold Schwarzenegger, or those guys from the 1970s TV series, CHiPs (California Highway Patrol), to clean up the highways.

Speed Racer, Cannonball Run or even the crazy Love Bug, Herbie, do not rate against the reality of the 26th of July freeway that runs out to Sixth of October city.

Not to mention the visual pollution. The amount of billboards is extraordinary. I know a Cairo magazine surveyed Cairenes a few months back who collectively praised the advertising billboards for their interest value, along the lines that they keep you from getting bored.

Bored? Is that why people drive as if the checkered flag was in sight?

The Eid holiday will be here in two weeks, and with the Oct. 6 holiday attached, all and sundry will be revving up the engine to make a dash for the coast.

Haven’t drivers noticed that there are only a few ambulances available? “Meat wagons, as they are known to paramedics, are becoming more common, but I would not want to be waiting for one. Slow down, speed kills, you are better late than dead.

Dead on arrival, DOA, if you’re lucky, because you are more likely to end up in a wheel chair, missing a limb or with a mind that resembles a broccoli stalk.

Criticism can be hard to take, but drivers need to heed the Government warnings; wear seat belts, drive on the correct side of the road and listen to the public advice, which is beginning to surface, and just slow down.

If cars were fitted with the black box (which is apparently florescent orange), crash investigators would find that speed and tiredness contributes to most major road accidents; so take a break.

Modern cars are built for speed, but you have to ask yourself, do the roads match the torque and does driving have to be a Formula One event?

In short, Cairenes need to wake up. They are not Lewis Hamilton, they just drive too fast, on inferior roads and the only pit stop is an early grave.

Of course, I apologize to anyone in advance who never speeds, uses their indicator and doesn’t swerve in and out of the traffic. And to the billboard designers, who I must say, are committed to their mission of blanket coverage.

*Ladybird Johnson was the former First Lady, married to President Lyndon Johnson. She headed a highway beautification program in the 1960s which linked federal US highway funding to each state’s success rate at removing billboards from their highways.

pacarrigan@freelancejournalism.com

Topics: Gamma Islamiya

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