CAIRO – 29 June 2018:In the last few years, road accidents have become a serious problem in Egypt. Egypt loses about 12,000 lives to road accidents annually, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which puts Egypt among the top 10 countries where fatal road accidents take place.
The General Administration of Traffic in Egypt provides seven different licenses according to the type of vehicle; the number of vehicle licenses in Egypt reached 9.4 million at the end of 2016, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
1 – Microbuses and minibuses
In the early 1960s, Egypt imported microbuses from Volkswagen Company, and Giza governorate was then the only Egyptian governorate to have microbuses. By the end of the 1970s, microbuses became one of the main means of transportation for millions of Egyptians. Even though microbus drivers have licenses, the vast majority of Egyptians consider them unworthy of being licensed drivers.
"Microbus drivers don’t respect traffic rules or other vehicles around them; they don’t have any problem to cut the road and swerve suddenly in front of other cars without giving signals," Hanan Mohamed, a woman who has 5-year experience in driving around Cairo, told Egypt Today.
“Microbuses look like armored vehicles; if microbus drivers hit a car, the microbus won’t be affected as much as other vehicles,” Hanan said.
All drivers complain from microbus and minibus drivers, not only women.
Mohamed Mostafa drives his small truck - Egypt Today/Hend safwat
“The government must confiscate licenses of microbus drivers,” Mohamed Mostafa, a truck driver, who has 25 year experience in driving, told Egypt Today.
According to Mohamed, microbuses are hazardous to the surrounding vehicles, as when a passenger waves to a microbus, the driver stops suddenly, causing a lot of accidents and hampering traffic.
Sayed Madbouli drives his microbus – Photo courtesy of Sayed Madbouli
Microbus drivers further acknowledge that they don’t abide by traffic rules, Sayed Madbouli, a microbus driver for more than 32 years, said. Madbouli explained that there are two types of microbus drivers; the first type comprises those who drive on high ways, like Cairo- Alexandria Road, and abide by traffic rules, avoiding accidents as much as they can.
While the second type includes those who drive within governorates and slums; the drivers he described as “rude and careless.”
“They put iron bars behind and in front of their microbuses to frighten others, as they know if they hit other vehicles, their microbuses wouldn’t be affected or damaged,” Sayed explained.
On the other hand, other people consider microbus drivers the cleverest drivers in Egypt.
Mostafa Abd Al Mongy while driving his own car – Photo courtesy of Mostafa Abd Al Mongy
“The majority of microbus drivers are professional,” Mostafa Abdel Mongy, a student at al Azhar University said.
Mostafa considers microbus drivers the most professional drivers because they memorize the roads well and know how to escape congestion. However, Mostafa gets annoyed by reckless microbus drivers who use irrational speed, causing deadly accidents.
2-Malaky cars “Private cars”
Some people prefer driving their own cars, as this provides them with more privacy and time flexibility.
Imam Gala Ibrahim drives taxi – Egypt Today/Hend safwat
“Young drivers speed more than elder people,” Imam Gala Ibrahim, a 42 year old taxi driver, told Egypt Today.
"The vast majority of youth drivers cause a lot of accidents due to speeding, while drivers whose ages range between 30 and 45 years old drive more carefully," he added.
Mohamed Mohsen maintenances forklift - Egypt Today/Hend Safwat
"Women are awful drivers, as they can’t handle stress especially on the highways and they take a lot of time to park their cars; they should keep away from driving," Mohamed Mohsen, a 51-year old forklift driver, said.
On the other hand, Samir Sayed Mahmoud, a 52 year old dump truck driver, said that gender does not affect a person's ability to drive; drivers just need to be well trained and abide by traffic laws.
“Women and men are probably equal in terms of driving skills, but the vast majority of women abide by traffic rules which led some people to think that women don’t drive well. Unfortunately, a person who speeds and infringes traffic laws is considered a good driver by so many people,” Samir explained.
Samir Sayed Mahmoud in Egyptian street –Egypt Today/Hend Safwat
3- Lorries and trucks
Driving trucks needs more skill and training than driving other cars; it isn’t easy to drive this kind of vehicles due to their huge sizes.
“Lorry drivers are the best drivers and they are more professional than others; they can drive any kind of vehicles, but other drivers can’t drive lorries,” Ali Yasser, a taxi driver, in his early 60s, told Egypt Today.
According to Ali, experienced lorry and truck drivers are more cautious, especially on the high way. He added that mistakes usually come from other vehicles' drivers who move into the right lane which is specialized for lorry drivers and heavy trucks only.
"The truckers take the highest category of all licenses -Professional first license- and they are the most qualified drivers, but they are also the main source of fatal accidents as some of them use drugs," Samir Sayed, a lorry driver told Egypt Today.
"Finally, to drive or not to drive, it is up to you. But when you decide to drive, you should abide by traffic rules, as you don’t have the right to put your life and people’s lives in danger," Samir stressed.