Sunday, July 17, 2005

About 1 Iranian Dead Every 25 Minutes

Iranians are out of their minds on the roads. They push rickety old cars way past the legal speed limit. They drive like maniacs on roads that, while in good condition, are not in good enough condition for speeds of 80-100 mph.

I guarantee that if you spend 1-year in Iran, someone you know will be killed in a car accident. It is likely that the person killed will be young, just married or engaged, and full of promise. If you only have one-week to spend in Iran, then ask any Iranian you meet. They will tell you the story of a loved one dying in a car accident. That loved one may be a brother, a lover, or a dear friend.

Visit the graveyards here on a Thursday afternoon, and you are sure to see mothers crying beside the graves of their 20-something sons. These boys did not die in war or in any act of insurgency.

Iranians only half-jokingly blame their driving on the mullahs. Every day you can watch public service announcements geared towards improving the driving habits of Iranians. The PSAs are witty and interesting and tragic. But they are sanctioned by the government, which makes them suspect. "Iranians cannot believe that the law can also protect them," a friend who is a lawyer says.

No. Iranians believe that everything can be solved with a little money. "If Iran can solve its traffic problem," K says, "then any problem can be solved."

Why is this topical now? I'll tell you. It's because a good friend's brother was killed this past week. Just married. Full of promise. And not the first…


assigned reader said...

Culture vs. Civilization:

I am an Iranian (born & raised) and this is what I see, as the root of our many problems. I am trying to keep an objective look; that's why I am referring to Iranians here as 'them'. Iranians need to have a sober look at themselves, before blaming the Western conspirators or the Mullahs for their economical and moral decadence. The problem is lack of civilization.

Culture and civilization are totally separate concepts. Iranians have an elaborate culture, rich in arts, literature and music to name a few, but that alone will not make them a civilized nation. Even the most primitive tribes in farthest corner of the Earth have some cultural expressions. Mass migration of villagers - no doubt, with a village mentality – to the cities, will not make them overnight civilized, nor they can pass civility to their children. Civilization is not sleek highways or high-rises. It’s respect for law and the ability to enforce it...It’s being able to shop with credit cards in Tehran, Esfehan or Kashan....among many other things.

Iranians cannot alleviate their shortcomings (no matter who is running the country) unless they effectively teach civilization, in its true sense (i.e. social order promoting cultural creation), in their educational system and mass media.

The deploring situation of their driving habits is also a reflection of this fact. Forget about road trips; those of you who have tried to cross an intersection on foot in Tehran (the capital!, from the leafy streets of Rafsanjani country to shanty towns of the south), know what I mean!

ET said...

Well put, assigned reader.

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Anonymous said...


I just want to say that I recently found your weblog and I find it great. I would like to know more about the daily life in Iran (if u can provide pics, would be awsome). My boyfriend is iranian, and I would like to know as much as possible about Iran. He mentioned something about wanting to go back, reason for which I am so interested about your view as a an american in Iran.

Thanks a lot and keep up the good work.