Drive anywhere in the Middle East and you are taking your life in your hands. Whether you are in a car, bus, train, or just walking on a sidewalk or riding your bike, safety should be your number one concern. A new App in Lebanon helps you report dangerous drivers. And a Canadian-Emirati is fighting for safer driving laws in the United Arab Emirates because his sister was killed by reckless driving. Give a Middle East man a fast car and he turns into a crazed speed demon. Bad road behavior matched with poorly enforced laws means more deaths, and it makes people less inclined to get on their bikes. But a new approach in Venezuela has drivers becoming more mindful of the laws, when policing doesn’t work. How are they doing it? Using mimes.
The approach uses humor to show bad drivers (and pedestrians) when they are breaking the law, according to Fox News.
Venezuela’s capital Caracas has employed 120 mimes charged with giving bad drivers the silent treatment in an effort to combat traffic woes. Dressed in clown-like outfits and with white gloves the mimes have taken to the street to wag their fingers at drivers and pedestrians who aren’t adhering to traffic laws.
According to FOX: “They found plenty to keep them busy in a city where motorcycle riders roar down sidewalks, buses drop passengers in the middle of busy streets and drivers treat red lights and speed limits as suggestions rather than orders.”
The idea came about by the Caracas Mayor Carlos Ocariz of Sucre who followed the model started by Antanas Mockus, a former mayor of Bogota, Colombia. But the Caracas mayor is up for a challenge because the Venezuelan drivers are known to be worse than the Colombian ones. For instance, when a driver misses a highway exit, they just put their car in reverse through oncoming traffic.
Alex Ojeda, who employed professional actors to train the mimes via a local NGO in Venezuela, believes the mimes will help where other methods have failed: “Many times, the mimes can achieve what traffic police cannot achieve using warning and sanctions in their efforts to maintain control.
“Mimes, on the contrary, often achieve the same objective by employing artistic and peaceful actions,” he says.
Where Middle East drivers continue to shock and surprise a few mimes are very much welcome. Especially as locals here start a cycling revolution.
We just hope the mimes don’t get run over.