There really must be a better system when it comes to handling traffic accidents in Jordan, because the current one is simply horrendous. I’ve been in at least a half dozen road-related accidents and while none of them have been major, thank God, they have been an all around nuisance.
Today, I was in a minor fender bender. My pickup hit another pickup truck that had stopped short on a traffic circle and the damage, which was essentially a little dent in the rear bumper. The driver would have typically let it pass but since the truck belonged to the company he worked for, he had to call them up to inquire. They, naturally, wanted us to wait for the police and fill out the report.
This entails calling up the police, telling the operator where you’re located and then, waiting. And waiting, and waiting, and waiting. On average, my waiting time has been roughly 80-90 minutes. Today was no different, except of course with the heat wave, the 90 minutes I had to wait felt like 5 hours under the blistering Sun. In order to get them to actually come quicker you will need either wasta (calling someone who works in government) or simply the method most citizens seem to resort to – calling the operator a hundred times until she gets fed up. The latter works just as well and you’ll usually find that the overwhelming majority of the time that the police are late is simply because they didn’t get the report from the operator. On our 21st phone call to the operator we finally hear her contacting them in the background.
If the police arrive in a van, then you’re in luck, because then one of them will hop in the back, pull out a little table and fill out the report – also known as the kroka. If the police arrives on a motorcycle, then you’re screwed and you have to drive behind him as he heads to the station. Not only is the latter a nuisance because of having to drive to another location, but the motorcycle cop will typically take your license and tell you to “il7ago” follow him to the station, but instead, upon arriving, you’ll discover that he’s gone off to inspect other accidents, which means you’ll have to wait an hour at the station while he rounds up a bunch of accidents, all of whom will come pouring in to a little office and then he fills out the reports, one by one.
With this in mind, most people hope and pray for the van to come. In this case, a van did come. We were parked about 50 meters away from the scene of the accident so as to not bring traffic to a halt at a busy intersection, and the policeman’s first reaction was to ask us why we did that. This is utterly confusing, because every time I’m in an accident the policeman will either chastise you for not moving the car out of traffic’s way, or chastise you for having done so.
So we drove back to the scene. One of the cops took out a digital camera and snapped a shot of the bump. Then, they told us to go to the station and wait for them. Van or no van, we were going to have to wait. As expected, they had gone off to inspect other accidents, or perhaps have lunch (I’m not sure which, but they did come back with Pepsis in their hands). All in all, the ordeal took just a little over 2 and a half hours.
The person who hit the other car has to pay 5JDs for “fata7 kroka” or issuing the report. But the funniest part is when the policeman takes out an old beaten up plastic stencil, the kind you probably took to school in the 4th grade, and then draws out the accidents using the geometric shapes on the stencil. Meanwhile, his sidekick is usually dealing with the other cases by asking people whose accidents are simply not worth it to “sort it out”, which means he’s encouraging the guilty party to pay the other party off in order to avoid all the legal work. Now all of this in mind, the most difficult part about this process is simply getting the police to concentrate on one task at hand, instead of engaging in various conversations and making various phone calls. Getting them to concentrate on finishing your paperwork is like getting a 5 year old to eat his broccoli.
I’m not asking for first class service, and I have absolutely no experience in this field of work, but there seriously has to be a better way at dealing with accidents that doesn’t waste the citizen’s valuable time. There’s also got to be a better system that puts police resources to better use.
After this entire ordeal comes either the court or the insurance company – depending on the type of accident. Both entities are twice as annoying and problematic as the traffic police, but that’s a tale for another day…