Letter to Nader Dahabi on road safety

From King Abdallah II of Jordan
To Nader Dahabi
RE: Road safety
27 January 2008
Translated from Arabic

In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate,

Your Excellency Prime Minister Nader Dahabi,

May God protect you,
Peace, God’s mercy and His blessings upon you,

It is my pleasure to convey to you my cordial and respectful greetings.

I received, with grief and sorrow, news about the death of a group of our sons and daughters in a horrible traffic accident in the northern part of the Kingdom. After we offered our condolences to their families and shared with them this tragedy, we saw fit to address citizens and share with them our thoughts about this painful incident, and regarding traffic accidents in general. We also saw fit to emphasise to you the importance of fighting this phenomenon on the ground, as soon as possible.

Traffic accidents and the pain and sorrow they inflict have become, sadly, a common denominator among too many Jordanian families: every house, every family and every individual can recount a tragic story involving a traffic accident and its horrors. I personally experienced this pain when I lost dear friends. Some of my comrades in arms were victims of traffic accidents during my service in the armed forces. I have since been keen to spare my people and my family this pain and grief.

Every time we lose the cream of our children or youth or a good father or a dedicated mother, we realise anew how awful this phenomenon is, and how necessary it is to fight it urgently, firmly and responsibly. It is the right of all Jordanians that we provide for them a safe traffic environment.

We have dedicated ourselves to protecting the lives and dignity of Jordanian citizens so that each Jordanian will enjoy a decent and tranquil living. We are keen to enhance our infrastructure, including the road and transportation networks, to meet citizens' needs by making these facilities accessible to them. We do not want their lives to be endangered by a lack of such facilities.

Therefore, we consider it an urgent national priority to carry out a comprehensive review and honest disclosure of traffic accidents, their causes and the necessity of finding a quick remedy for them.

While we emphasise our compassion and solidarity with, and grief for, every family that loses loved ones, and with every parent who is deprived from witnessing the growth of their children, we direct you to commit yourself to confront the traffic situation in a serious, methodical way in order to rid our streets of death. This must be done both in memory of the innocent victims who have been lost, and in reflection of your keenness to protect our coming generations. Since it is clear that many of the traffic accidents are due to errant drivers, we direct all officials and those who aspire to see a safer Jordan to work together to change the traffic culture in our country.

Changing this culture and improving driving habits requires a revision of legislation concerned with regulating traffic, and a reconsideration of drivers' education, rehabilitation and examination, so that driving will again be a matter of ethics, culture and individual national responsibility, before being an art or skill.

No doubt that many official and civil society institutions are concerned about this and are able to mobilise nationally against this phenomenon so that accidents will be limited. On this occasion, we call on them to contribute to this national undertaking and shoulder their national responsibility.

The national media is called upon to work effectively in this area by raising awareness about the correct driving practices. We rely on all educational institutions, whether schools, universities, or governmental and private institutes, to start an awareness campaign in their curricula and teaching methods, so that we can fight this phenomenon. This also applies to local communities and civil society institutions which are called upon to lead public opinion to be aware of the threat that traffic accidents pose to our generation and future ones, and that contributes to changing the driving culture and practices in a way that makes drivers more responsible and concerned for public safety.

Official institutions, especially the Public Security Directorate, must shoulder a larger share in fighting this phenomenon, dealing with its causes and confronting it by articulating a national strategy for traffic safety, taking into consideration the importance of providing urgent, basic solutions to some violations and excesses that threaten our citizens' lives and disturb their security. On this occasion, and with consideration to this painful incident and the example it has set for us, I direct you to firmly implement traffic safety laws, without exception or leniency. Traffic accidents claim the souls of innocent people, and steal them from our midst.

In this regard, we are keen to find a just mechanism for issuing traffic violation citations. We directed the Director General of Public Security to apply the most up-to-date surveillance and follow-up technology, to assure just implementation and application of sound rules in writing traffic tickets.

We call on the government to cooperate with the Public Security Department to confront the traffic accidents phenomenon, by creating a legislative framework and a programme that outlines a step-by-step approach to addressing this phenomenon and its causes.

We ask God Almighty, the Sublime, to protect Jordan and our dear people, and to grant us security, tranquillity and peace.

Peace, God's mercy and His blessings upon you,

Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein
Amman, 27 January 2008