RIYADH — The drag racing hobby of today’s youth is fast becoming a cause of universal torment. Unfortunate events are taking place in drag racing arenas throughout the Kingdom. Loss of life and limbs is common occurrence as is the consumption of drugs and alcohol. The situation has escalated further — the use of arms is also becoming common place. Recently, a young man shot dead a rival racer at the airport.
Despite the high number of accidents and deaths, strict regulations and policing are still lacking. To his credit, Col. Abdulrahman Al Shanbari, director of the Eastern Province Traffic Department, is trying to stem the evil tide. His Traffic Department has commissioned specialized officers to monitor drag racing in Dammam in a coordinated fashion. Their goal is to minimize the negative influence of the craze by issuing penalties stiff enough to act as deterrents.
According to Fahd Al-Qahtani, lack of self-discipline and the absence of good parenting has contributed to the problem getting well out of hand. Abdulrahman Al-Mugbil, director of the Observation House in Dammam, called for strict regulations on car rental companies and penalties on families of the youth found guilty of repeatedly flouting the law.
According to Abdulrahman Al-Sihli, student counselor at Al-Yacoubi high school in Al-Khobar, most drag racers are between 15 and 25 years of age and hence indifferent to risk.
Khalid Al-Haleebi, professor of Shariah at Imam Muhammad Bin Saud Islamic University in Al-Ahsa, added that the mindless hobby “is the result of the deep vacuum in society”.
“The racers get sucked into a criminal lifestyle which results in a great loss to the family and country. Subsequent efforts to rectify their behavior requires a disproportionate amount of effort and money to cure them from such addictions.”
Saleh Al-Yousuf, judge at Court of Appeals in the Eastern Province, asserted that drag racing is un-Islamic.
“Islam calls for protecting five basic rights. Traffic law is here to protect the sanctity of life. Nowadays deaths from traffic accidents outnumber those from disease and natural disasters,” he said.
Humoud Al-Khalidi, a lawyer and legal adviser, pointed out the penalties for offenders as stipulated in a ministerial decree: “For the first time, ‘suspension for five days, a fine, and impoundment of the car for a month’; for the second time, ‘suspension for 10 days, a fine, and impoundment of the car for two months’; and for the third time, ‘charging the offender’s release with bail, raising the matter to the region’s Emir to determine the legal action and confiscating the car’.”
Social commentators believe the problem can be controlled by establishing an official association for the sport.
Race clubs, situated far away from densely populated areas, would provide the youth with a safe way of practicing their hobby. The presence of Civil Defense and Red Crescent teams will also help in reducing fatalities. — SG