photo: Eddy van Wessel


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Make roads safer

Speed bumps on a highway? Really? How dangerous! 

My friends in the West are shocked when I tell them about some of the issues of driving in Kurdistan. And speed bumps are one of them. 

I recently drove to Khanaqin, and got very annoyed by the amount of speed bumps on the way. Only every now and again there would actually be some warning: a sign perhaps, or some orange pylons. Sometimes I was lucky enough to be driving behind someone who knows the road.

I know a Dutch producer of the bumps, who is specialized in road safety. He sells in Kurdistan, but I wonder if they follow all his advice. Because what are speed bumps for? To slow down the traffic. Definitely they are not meant to damage cars, to create dangerous situations or to annoy drivers – yet that is what they mostly do in Kurdistan because of the lack of proper warning signs.

In Europe speed breakers are mainly used in those parts of the towns where children play outside. But they are always very well announced. They are not popular with drivers there either, but people accept them for their effect: they make part of the road safer.

Speed bumps in Kurdistan hardly get drivers to slow down. People try to avoid them, swerve out or just brake at the last moment and then speed away again. To get Kurdish drivers to change their habits, the speed breakers have to be part of a system of warnings, and drivers need to be told why they have to slow down. So quite some way before the bump, a sign should be warning for it, and giving a maximum speed. The signs that follow mention an ever lower speed, until the bump is passed.

Highways are not a place for speed bumps. For traffic to slow down there, different measures are needed. Highways are made for the traffic to be able to move on, and any obstacle can be dangerous. Lower the maximum speed allowed – and explain why. And fine those who do not abide by the rules – that is a more accepted way.

Like many problems in Kurdistan, this one has a lot to do with a lack of communication and proper education. Drivers must understand first that a speed bump is coming up, and then where and why.

Politicians and planners should look at the situations and analyze every one of them. Sometimes the bumps will have to go, in other situations they have to be adapted. Then the driver needs to get an explanation why he has to reduce speed. And finally: police has to be involved, to fine those that do not abide by the rules. 

Up to safer roads!

This column was published in Kurdish in the daily Kurdistani Nwe

No comments: