Last Thursday, the Saudi Arabian Al-Watan newspaper said that the Jeddah Traffic department had invited a number of school teachers and students to actively take part in putting a stop to the phenomenon known as “tafheet” [reckless driving at high speeds utilizing hand-brake turns] during the examination period. The Jeddah Traffic department has asked for teachers and students to cooperate with them and report students who drive in this reckless manner.
In my opinion, and despite the dangers of this phenomenon which claims the lives of many students, assigning students and teachers to work as secret informants – despite the nobility of its goal – is something that is not consistent with the role or duties of a teacher. We know teachers as instructors, guides, and advisors, but not as secret informants who report their own students. This is also something that will create bridges between students and teachers, as well as within the student body, not to mention possibly creating antagonism, anger, and suspicion beyond our wildest expectations. I had hoped that the traffic and education departments would have adopted an intense program to raise awareness against the dangers of “tafheet” in which teachers and students would participate in warning others against this phenomenon. It would be legitimate for the educational department to contribute to this, as this is something that falls within its duties. As for teachers and students working as secret informants for the traffic department in the manner indicated in the news article, schools are not the proper place for this, and the traffic department should not use teachers and students for this.
I would like to first express my appreciation for the efforts undertaken by the director of the Jeddah Traffic department, Colonel Muhammad al-Qahtani – who initially put forward this idea due to his concern for the safety of our students – and his departmental staff who are doing their best to keep control of the city’s streets, but I hope that he will retract this proposal before it creates further problems that are no less dangerous than the phenomenon of “tafheet” itself. Jeddah is a city where every hour is rush hour, and its roads and lanes are filled with speeding vehicles. The city’s traffic department is shouldering a responsibility greater than that of counterpart traffic departments in other cities. The Jeddah traffic department is carrying out exceptional work under exceptional circumstances due to the huge number of cars in the city.
Best wishes to those working in the educational and traffic departments to find a better solution to the dangerous phenomenon of “tafheet” that avoid these ideas that threaten relations within the school environment.