Harassment on the road
By Patricia Donohue/Doha
I had a car accident on the Corniche on the first of March. I got hit from behind and pushed into the car in front. Technically that means the fault lies with the guy that rear ended me but “technically” doesn’t really cover what actually happened.
What actually happened was I was being harassed on the road, which unfortunately is not rare on the streets of Doha. I was driving the maximum speed limit and yet that was still too slow for someone. That someone began flashing me and riding my bumper. I didn’t move. Not because I wanted to be difficult but because I honestly consider it safer to stay put rather than panic and change lanes just because someone wants to get to the roundabout faster.
The guy gets the point but instead of waiting the 300m to the roundabout he moves to overtake me. Except there’s no room to overtake me. He cuts in front of me and makes sure it’s close. So I flash him back.
And then he takes it too far.
He not only slows down...he teases me. He slows down a little and then a lot. I’m checking my rear view mirror to find the right time to stop and keeping an eye on him so I don’t stop too late. He stops completely and so do I. And that’s when I get rear ended. The force of the crash basically had my car sandwiched. The force of the crash also hurt my neck and head.
I get out, disoriented and in pain loOKing at the guy in front. The real reason this accident happened. And he just stares at me. He doesn’t make a move to see if I’m OK, even though I clearly wasn’t. He doesn’t apologise. He actually doesn’t even loOK like he cares. We yell at one another whereas he not only tells me to get back into the car because I’m a woman, but he also threatens to hurt me if I don’t go away...twice.
My dad arrives, as do my Arabic-speaking friends. The police and paramedics show up soon after. My neck and head hurt more by the minute, my car is destroyed and this guy is brushing me off like I’m nothing. Waving his hand at me as I get strapped to a stretcher like I’m beneath him. Like I deserved it.
Because I didn’t get out of his way when he flashed his lights. That’s it. He put my life in danger because I didn’t move.
The guy that hit me from behind is the one taking the blame for the accident. His insurance is covering all damages to all cars. And yet the guy in front gets nothing. He gets nothing for stopping in the middle of the road to scare someone.
The thing is, this isn’t the first time this has happened to me and many people I know on the roads. This is just the first time I got hurt. All those other times you get flashed and cut off and chased you let slide because nothing bad happened. And then one day it does and you think, how is this OK?
I’m tired of driving under these conditions. I’m tired of knowing that every single day someone is going to do something like this. I’m tired of letting it go and I know I’m not the only one when I say I’m tired of the following:
1) being flashed - from 300m away to 3 inches from my bumper
2) being followed home. Regularly.
3) being chased
4) having someone overtake me in a way that makes me swerve because they try to hit my car at the same time
5) having someone act as if they’re about to hit me in the side to show me I should have moved out of their way
6) having someone pull in front of me then alternate between slowing down and speeding up
7) having someone pull in front of me just to slam on their brakes
8) having someone cut me off on a roundabout then stop and reverse so it loOKs like I hit the back of their car
9) being harassed even more when they realise I’m a female driver
10) having men realise I’m a female driver then going out of their way to do all of the above
And all for what? These drivers put my life in danger for what? To show me my place? To scare me because they think it’s funny? To tell me this is what happens when I don’t break the speed limit? To teach me a lesson for being in their way?
Yes there are more speed cameras on the road. Yes there are more traffic rules than there used to be. But when is the actual dangerous driving going to stop? How many accidents is it going to take for people to realise that maybe it’s not the guy that hit you from behind that caused it? That maybe we should start loOKing at the people who are setting off a chain reaction that ends in these “accidents”. That maybe we should start loOKing at the drivers that make the roads dangerous on purpose rather than those that just make mistakes.
If you drive recklessly without actual consideration for the other drivers on the road, people will get hurt: it’s as simple as that.
And it’s not worth it.
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