|Al-Ahram Weekly Online
5 - 11 July 2001
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875||Current issue | Previous issue | Site map|
A cause to fight forSir- The death of a child leaves an open wound that never heals. It brings regrets and agony, respectively, for time lost and days that could have been spent together. The pain inflicted upon us in these poignant moments has become too much to bear, while the frequency of such tragedies brings us to the realisation that something needs to be done. Although I had pondered this issue in the past, I have become more adamant about it after the loss of my younger son Carlo and his two friends, Youssef Anan and Ali Abdel-Aal. These three young men were killed in a dreadful car accident on their way back from the AUC Prom.
This was a fatal shock that has buried itself in the minds of many, both close friends and mere acquaintances. Although I cannot change the course of fate and was able to accept God's will calmly, I cannot help wondering how such a tragic accident could have been avoided.
Although I am still not clear on whether my son and his friends (more precisely the one who was driving) were intoxicated at the time of the accident, I feel that driving under the influence is a major cause of accidents involving teenagers and young adults. I believe we can fight such irresponsible conduct efficiently through better education and more severe enforcement. The first part of this plan would require parents and educational institutions to teach our children about the dangers of driving under the influence of mind-altering substances, especially alcohol. The second part involves the authorities, which should reprimand intoxicated driving, and, more importantly, pass laws that allow law enforcement officers to attend our children's raves, parties and promotions (where intoxication is very frequent), to reinforce drinking age limits and make sure every driver is completely sober before getting behind the steering wheel.
I believe that another cause of such accidents is the Egyptian driving environment. Although we have witnessed an immense improvement in the condition of Egyptian roads (better paved, wider, and in certain areas better designed), there are still a few aspects that are overlooked, especially in more remote areas. A lot of our roads don't have clearly labeled signs. Often, even if the sign can be seen during the day, it is not properly illuminated when it's dark, and thus is not perceivable at night, which is when most accidents happen. This is why we need to work in collaboration with the authorities to create a safer driving environment.
More importantly, since most young people's parties take place in distant areas such as Maadi, Marioutiya, or even in compounds on the Cairo-Alexandria desert road, which are not equipped with suitable facilities for safe driving, I suggest that authorities only allow parties in such places after ensuring that the roads leading to the event are safe at night. Although such a scenario might not appeal to the younger generation, I believe that such action is necessary to save not only our party-going youngsters, but also everyone else on the road.
Finally, I would like to point out that most deaths on the road, including my son's, result from a collision between a passenger car and a truck. Many trucks in our country are not safe to drive (no lights, weak brakes, etc...) due to negligent or greedy owners. Many truck drivers have poor eyesight, are illiterate, lack the skills necessary to manoeuvre such a huge vehicle, or simply neglect basic safety procedures such as signaling when they stop in the middle of the road. I therefore believe it would also be a good idea to make regular safety check-ups mandatory for truck owners, and to monitor truck drivers more closely.
Today, Carlo, Ali, and Youssef have departed, leaving us in agony and misery. Yet they lost their lives for a cause we should fight for. Our beloved children portray an example that has touched everyone I know, and I am therefore pleading that we take care of this issue immediately. Children, with their unique spirit, are our joy of life and our breath of fresh air. They are bliss from God and losing them is a disaster. So, for Carlo, Ali, and Youssef's sake, take my words and experience as an opportunity to help me create a safer and better future for our children and the next generations. May their souls rest in peace.
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