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May 12, 2017

Learning from catastrophes


May 12, 2017

While driving along the roads of Dubai, I witnessed two cars that had collided with each other. This compelled me to ask my friend who has been living there for four years about how accidents are dealt with in Dubai.

He said no car is permitted to be out on the roads until it is fully insured. When accidents happen, the losses have to be borne by the insurance companies, regardless of who or what caused the accident.

The police arrive on the scene and ensure that other cars can ply smoothly on the road where the accident has occurred. They investigate the reason of the accident, penalise the guilty driver with a ticket and allow insurance companies to handle the rest of the matter.

There is no chance of a fight erupting on the roads and no endless worries about repairing the damage done to the vehicle. This is a methodical and effective system developed by the government of the UAE.

In Pakistan, such accidents have become a daily occurrence. These incidents give rise to aggression. In such situations, people are seen calling their relatives and friends to help them obtain money from the driver who has hit their car. The guilty driver often calls his relatives and friends to come and save him from being harassed.

The matter lingers for hours and sometimes ends up at a police station. The major reason for this is that people avoid getting their cars insured, when it hardly takes 2.5 percent of the total value of the car to fully insure it.

Many people are afraid and paranoid that their car might either be stolen or meet with an accident. The fear is aggravated and morphs into anger when they meet an accident on the road. This anger gives rise to an increased aggression that is transfers from person to person and converts our society into a state of angry flux. Long traffic jams develop on the roads where the accidents occur.

The government should establish policies that no car (whether zero-meter or second hand) should be allowed on the road until it is fully insured. It can be implemented by directing showroom dealers to insure a car before delivering it to the customer. Even if a car that is five or six years old is plying on the road without insurance, traffic wardens should not spare the drivers and strictly enforce rules. People should also re-insure their cars once their insurance expires.

When a person can afford a car, he can also afford to pay the 2.5 percent of the total value of the car for its insurance for his mental peace. This will ensure traffic does not remain clogged for hours due to fights over minor accidents and people do not get late from schools and offices owing to such unnecessary situations.

We as a society need to prevent such incidents on the roads. I have seen educated people embroiled in fights over minor accidents, which should not be the case. Our mental energies should not be wasted on such issues. Aggression is already increasing in our society due to multiple reasons. Let’s eradicate this easily treatable problem at least so we can move one step closer towards societal betterment.


The writer is a consultant psychologist.


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