In Middle Eastern countries like Lebanon and Egypt, indicators are optional, more often that not replaced with an arm sticking out the window to signal the intention to turn. The white lines dotting streets are there for show, with no real purpose, such as possibly forming lanes for cars to drive down. In other words, traffic is a nightmare.
There are a lot of great online services in the region which can keep you up-to-date on traffic, making sure you know which route to avoid before leaving the house. A new Lebanese website is dedicated to a slightly different kind of traffic reporting. Cheyef7alak takes a name-and-shame them approach to outing irresponsible drivers.
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Rather than put up with small traffic violations that are run of the mill in Beirut’s streets, Cheyef7alak encourages users to snap photos and shoot video as the violation is happening. These then get saved for posterity on the Web for everyone to see.
The concept is great, and there’s no doubt that a lot of countries in the region are in desperate need of some sort of regulatory authority to crack down on traffic violations, seeing as the powers-that-be don’t.
Cheyef7alak puts Twitter and Facebook to good use, with an album on Facebook where users can upload images of traffic violations, and the hashtag, #Cheyef7alak on Twitter for users to report what they see on the fly.
The Facebook page has already attracted over 7,000 fans and counting. Whether or not Cheyef7alak’s efforts will make a difference is yet to be seen. The people whose photos are on Facebook no doubt have no idea about the site, and will probably never know that they’re in the website’s hall of shame. On the other hand, the site does help to spread awareness, so that at least anyone who’s seen the site will think twice before cutting off a driver, or piling 3 or 4 people on to a tiny Vespa for a joyride.
If you want to get a sense of what Cheyef7alak is up against, watch one of their promotional Arabic videos below. Even if you don’t understand the language, the driving style needs no translation.