Red Light Crossings

Last Thursday night I was in a car accident. Mid-way through a green light, a car swerved out of no where on my left, as it crossed its red light and hit me. The damage to my truck was rather minimal – the bumper and front guard need to be changed. However, the e-class Mercedes that hit me was rather totaled (boy am I glad with my purchasing decisions). In the Mercedes, four teenagers. The driver, a Saudi. Soon after surveying the damage and making sure everyone was okay, I drove my car out of the intersection and parked it meters away so as to avoid traffic pileup. The other car had no such luck getting started. The night, having been ruined, could be easily salvaged, or so I thought. Knowing that traffic police usually take their sweet time on normal nights let alone Thursdays, my first call was to the person who could make sure they come a bit faster. Sure enough, that call helped bring the one to two hour wait down to 15 minutes.

Generally, in Jordan, if the traffic police come in motorcycle you should assume you’ll be making a trip to the police station to fill out the paper work (the so-called ‘krokeh’). If they arrive in a van, they’ll pull out that foldaway table in the back and start filling it out on the scene. The former will need an additional hour, the latter can be over in under 20 minutes. Luckily, the van came.

However, upon seeing that it was not an ordinary accident, but rather a case of someone crossing a red light, this meant more paperwork. The policeman simply said “follow me to the station”. So he sped off before I, or those that hit me, could get in to our cars. But knowing the station, I simply drove over and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The accident took place at 9pm.

The police didn’t come back to their station until 12am. And the only reason they did is because I had to make another call simply because this was getting ridiculous. In the station there are about 15 police officers doing absolutely nothing but smoking, drinking coffee and chatting. And here I am, waiting for one policeman who has my drivers license to fill out paperwork that should take less than 10 minutes.

It turns out, on Thursday nights, they put one person in charge of three districts, and he even told me that he wasn’t planning on coming back until 2am. So I would have been waiting for five hours just to do something that takes 10 minutes. Instead of following up on each accident, they send one person to canvas all these areas and then come back at the end of the night and fill out the paperwork in a batch. Their excuse is that an accident takes place every five minutes, which I find highly unlikely given the geography and the various laws of physics and probability.

The officer comes in, drops the licenses, informs a fellow officer of the case, and leaves. As if he couldn’t do this when he told us to “follow me” three hours earlier. Now the second officer takes our statements, which are basically written out by pen on a piece of paper, and then you have to sign it. The krokeh is filled out and our IDs are taken away for collateral. We’re told to come back on Sunday for court. Upon telling them that I didn’t want to press any charges, they said it didn’t matter – I would have to do that at the courthouse.

So come Sunday morning, I’m back at the station at 9am waiting. The guy who hit me shows up and a police officer with all our papers held together by a pin, hops in the car and we go to the courthouse. There we go from room to room until the paper gets processed and we’re told to go see a judge downstairs.

For those who have never been to a courthouse in Jordan, think of a building where there are many small rooms, and each one is filled with exactly the following pieces of furniture: a couch, a long desk that divides the room and a computer. Behind the desk sits the judge and right next to him the typist. As he reviews the file, the typist fills out the information in a report. You’re then sworn in and asked about the events. As you answer “yes” or “no”, the report is written out in the first person. So for instance, if the judge asks you: “was the light green when you crossed?” and you reply with “yes”, he turns to the typist and says in classical Arabic: “I was crossing a green light when the other car hit me”. It is the strangest thing to hear things you haven’t said per se, coming out of someone else’s mouth.

Now, as far as I know, if I were to file a complaint about being hit by someone who crossed a red light, that person would either pay a hefty fine or be sent to jail. I did not file complaint however because I knew this would mean having to come back to the courthouse for several more sessions that might span across several weeks, and I’ve already wasted enough time of my life for someone who was just driving through a green light one Thursday evening.

Eventually, the report is typed up, filed and signed. The guy pays a 100JD fine for crossing a red light. I get my national ID back along with a copy of the krokeh and now I have to go to my insurance company. This entire process took about 3 hours.

At the insurance company today I’m told I need to get the accident report from the judge, which I didn’t know. So I drive back to the courthouse and of course there are about a dozen traffic police fining the heck out of all the people who have parked on the street between the Abdali project all the way to the King Abdullah mosque. With absolutely no where to park, I drive to Shmisani, luckily find a spot, and take a taxi to the courthouse. After finding the judge, and waiting till he got back from lunch, I ask him for the report and he says it will take four days, which in Jordan means five, and since it’s Monday, it means I won’t see it before next Sunday.

So essentially…

You get hit by a car on a Thursday night and you waste that night waiting for the police to fill out paperwork that takes about 10 minutes.

Then you waste a Sunday morning at the courthouse just to get the krokeh to take to your insurance company.

You waste a Monday morning between the insurance company and the courthouse only to be told to wait for several days.

Then you’ll come back to the insurance company nearly 9 days after the accident, to take it to a garage who will take about five days to repair it.

In other words, two weeks of my life will be semi-dedicated to this hassle and all because I got hit by an idiot who crossed a red light. Half that time, I will be car-less, which makes things even more difficult.

It’s amazing the amount of time that is wasted between the hassles and bureaucracy of this country.

So to the government, please find a way to mend what’s broken in this chain of events; the solutions are just so easy.

And to fellow drivers, please obey the traffic laws because even if it is your fault, the cause and effect of this situation only means you’re about to fuck up two weeks of someone else’s life for no good reason.

Thank you.


  • Amen brother! What a broken system. The idea that you have to go through so much hassle to report an accident is absolutely stupid. It should be that every traffic cop in town can write a ticket and can file an accident report… Hope all goes well with getting your truck repaired. Of course, you could go the route of half the country and just leave it as is ;).

  • Alhamdulillah salamtak. Glad you weren’t injured. What a blooming headache. May Allah protect us from dealing with the same or worse circumstances.

  • This just adds fuel to your previous posts regarding governmental innefficiency, the bureaucracies that have more red tape than what is humanly fathomable, and a hierarchy that serves no purpose but to assign blame.
    Alhamdulillah as-salameh.

  • Heh-heh, got all the American Moms rallying behind you here. I can’t believe the guy only had to pay 100JD. Maybe you are a better person than I, but that complaint would have been filed post-haste had it been me.

    One officer for three districts? On a Thursday night? Wait until 2am? Why don’t they just tell you to come back in the morning? Do they WANT to guarantee bad attitudes after a wrecked evening and sleepless night?

    I am ready to go demonstrate about unenforced traffic laws and the inefficient system of traffic management such as this. There is so much that can’t be changed here, this could easily be changed and give some people hope for bigger stuff.

    Didn’t you just get the truck out of the shop?

  • you should also thank god for having the numbers of people to call,when you made the 2 hour wait a 15 minute one…think of those who don’t…with them maybe it’s a couple of months

  • عندما زرت عمان في الصيف الماضي أستأجرت سياره، وفي أخر يوم قبل السفر الى الخارج كنت قد ذهبت لتسليم السياره وبين الدوار السابع والسادس وبتحدبد أمام مطعم موال، أتى أبن حلال وضربني من الخلف حيث الطنبون الخلفي قد تكسر من جراء الصدمه ،ورأسأ قمت بلااتصال مع شرطه السير لتقيم الحادث وعمل كروكا ،وبعد وصول الشرطي وتقديم أفاده عما جرى قمنا بزيارة المغفر في وادي السير لكمال الاأفاده وأنهاء المعملات القانونيه ،وبعد ذالك دهبت لتسليم السيارة وعند وصولي مكتب الايجار صاحب الشركه طلب مني أن أدفع١٠٠دينار عطل وظرر وطبعأ محسوبك رفض وصارت طوشه طويله عريظه بيني وصاحب شركه تأجير السيارات حيث المارة قد تجمعوا أمام المكتب وهرعت الناس لمشاهدة أحلى مسرحيه مجانيه

  • Sorry to hear you had to go through all that.

    It’s peoples attitudes, you only have to look at the Police officers at the station who were, as you say were doing nothing but smoking, drinking coffee and chatting.

    How effective would government solutions be with that kind of lazy attitude? You only have at no smoking in public buildings to see how people attitudes are to certain things.

  • Unlucky mate, as you probably know, if this to happen in EU then it would have been 5 minutes of your time, you exchange your details with the other driver (name, address, insurance co., car reg.) then just drive off (assuming that of course no one got hurt), then you fix the car at any garage of your choice, and send the invoices and the accident details to your insurer (ensuring you have informed them immediately of the accident), and they sort it all out, and send you all your money back, all in all it almost does not take any time. You are absolutely spot on mate, it is bloody hell in Jordan, i used to think that i can actually live there, but unfortunately stuff like that puts you off so much! i hope it gets better, but would assume it might take some time though.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • I think you did a mistake by not filling a complaint. maybe you would have made a person learn a lesson if you did. Some more waste of your time, maybe would have saved a life :). I would never let those careless people get out of it for 100JDs. I think It was your responsibility to waste more time on them, even if we have such time-wasting-system.
    Anyway, Hamdella 3al salame 🙂

  • Read your insurance contract fine print, mine says that I have to report accidents within seven days or I lose my rights, if that’s the case, make sure to notify them and document that.

  • Al7amdulillah 3assalamih Naseem


    ” think you did a mistake by not filling a complaint. maybe you would have made a person learn a lesson if you did. Some more waste of your time, maybe would have saved a life :). I would never let those careless people get out of it for 100JDs. I think It was your responsibility to waste more time on them, even if we have such time-wasting-system.
    Anyway, Hamdella 3al salame”

    i totally agree, we hired a contractor to build something for us, the 60 days job has taken over a year now. for real. over a year. we dont need the little building he is making, thats why we didnt care, and we have been following his case and promise after promise, lie after lie, he made it take over a year regardless of the detailed writen contract.

    I told my dad that he HAS TO submit these false checks the contractor put as a guarantee (which turned out to be fake, even) to court and file a complaint against him and make him pay for the delay acording to the contract etc, beucase if we dont teach him the lesson he will keep doing this to other people, in my opinion its a case of “ima6at al2atha 3an a66areeq 9adaqa”. and a guy like the contractor, or the teenager that hit your truck, is an 2atha that should be removed.

    al7amdu lillah 3ala salamtak, once more 🙂

    ** I think salamtak requires mansaf though… dont you guys agree? 😀 **

  • El hamdellah 3al salameh!

    I am glad you are talking about this! It has an accident something like this a few years ago. The guy was unconscious in his truck when it lost track and hit me on the other side of the lane! I dont remember they asked me if i want to press charges or not, but I remember waiting for the policeman for a couple of hours till he arrive to the police station which was just few meters away from the accident. I think they have this policy of covering seceral accidents in one tour before they come back to the station! Something should be done about this!

  • I feel your pain. Some guy hit me on University Street last year. It took ALL DAY to try to get a report filed at the police station. In the end, after waiting for hours with no results, the guy just gave me enough money to fix the car and we left.

  • someone hit my car whilst I was in my house, I took the guy to the police station. I arrived at 10.30 and waited until 12.30 sitting in the office watching some fat dude eating falafel sandwich I stood up said sahten wa 3fieh and went crazy on them and left. I returned the next morning at 7am everything was completed in 5 minutes. Gotta be tough and dont let them pull the wool over your eyes.

  • OH MY GOD!

    OH MY GOD!


    Walla salamtak ya zalameh, hopefully it will be your last accident. Believe me, it’s much better getting into this hassle and living the Jordanian bereaucracy at its best than having one little broken finger.

    I once had an accident and “accidentally” sued the other driver instead of doing a Kroka. I learned many lessonson on what to do right after an accident. Fortunately I had another accident 4 days later in the same car on the same side and was able to fix the car only once and avoid going to court.

  • Allah ysallem il jamee3…i’m actually pretty surprised there were that many people who read this post. is was a rant that ran to long.

    to address a few random bits from the comments above:

    kinzi…yes, i just got the truck out from a previous accident that took place several weeks ago. it was hit while parked innocently on the street. cest la vie.

    yazan…more often than not…frustrations call for a little profanity.

    my_name…thanks for the tip!

    to those suggesting that i should’ve filed a complaint. the problem here is that i will be punishing myself more than punishing this person. it will mean more days where i have to put everything on hold to go to court. it will mean paying a lawyer so my rights are fully protected. and i still have a broken truck that’ll be in the shop while all this is happening and i have to go around in taxis and buses.

    that’s the irony of such a situation, the law allows you to wield it as a learning tool, but the lesson doesn’t come without a cost to the instructor.

    thank you all for reading and sharing your own stories!

    much appreciated

  • I had four car accidents in the USA with one resulting in an Ambulance visit to the hospital! No need to talk about efficiency despite the fact that I live in a very small town.

    But seriously, such governments hire useless people like most of the police in the Police Station just to give them a salary and a job! Useless bureaucracy to keep citizens dumb bureaucrats! God help you all. Imagine what will happen to all those sorry police officers when they can not smoke!

  • First, Salamat … I am glad you were not hurt because our drivers are crazy 🙂

    Second, I totally agree with you on this matter and to tell you the truth, most of our traffic laws need to be changed or modified because they just don’t make much sense. Applying the laws should be done in a more professional way and there should be no tolerance whatsoever, but our main problem is that they keep giving exceptions where they are not necessary and this creates a mess …

    I had an accident last month and I was car less for one week just because the other driver thought he was smarter, faster and smoother than me and that he will never hit me, which he did and in a very stupid way … and when I stepped out of the car and waited for the police to come … all men in the street were like: get in the car and wait there because obviously it was annoying them that I am a girl in a street who had a car accident and to them .. I shouldn’t have been there in the first place .. everyone acted as if they wanted to hide me … boy! I really wanted to scream

    Salamtak Nas 🙂

  • Well first of all, el hamdella 3ala salamtak and Glad your pick up is fine. If only people would respect traffic laws for a change. Glad the van showed up becuase once I was hit in the back by a car while stopping on RED a tarffic light. It tooks like 3 or 4 hours to get the policem back to the Police station and then end the whole thing. Those were the days of no cell phones

  • For all the complaints about wasta, there you were making a phone call to get the police to come and see you first — to give you priority, special treatment — in an attempt to get your case sorted more quickly than Joe Jordanian. At least the chaos and inefficiency of the system treats everybody with the same callous indifference.

    Perhaps he was closer to another accident scene, but then got pulled across to yours, leaving others unfairly stranded for even longer — with no one to call.

    This wasta-usage was small fry compared to, say, getting put into a job you’re totally unqualified for.

    But isn’t it just part of the same cultural thought process, the same basic instinct that when life isn’t quite going our way:- we place a phone call.

    P.S: glad to hear everyone came out of the accident unscathed. Even with Jordanian car taxes, a car is still worth less than a life. ; )

  • I could not agree with you more on how we do need some change in Jordan. Before the government starts with anything, we as people must start with ourselves and change our behaviour. I like your blog and read it all the time. You did not have to end it using the “f” word. I was a bit disappointed in that.

  • I was visiting Jordan a few summers ago and my sister who does not live in Amman dropped her kids at some club! A guard was rude to her and she totally ignored him. I went with her to pick up the kids and the guard, who was dressed in regular clothing, prevented us from going inside the club. I asked him why he was stopping us while all other cars were going in and out?

    First mistake: I said: Law Samahat (please if you do not mind me asking)! It seems that being rude and arrogant work better in such situations.

    He literally told me that only “certain” cars and people go in. Mind you my sister was driving a Mercedes. Her kids were enrolled in a summer camp in the club.

    Second Mistake: The kids told the guard that they were from Egypt. It seems that some Arabs adore Nasser, Om Kalthoum, and Tamer Hosni but not the Egyptian people.

    My sister simply waited for the kids to get in the car while blocking the entry to the club and no one was behind us or complaining but sister had to have her moment of defiance!

    The guard grabs a pen and paper and starts writing the license number down.

    Please imagine the tough choice I was in at that moment. I had two different personalities and characters. One was American and the other was Arab. There was an inner struggle between the two and the Arab one won.

    I simply walked out of the car and went to him with an eternity of confidence and self pompous and said: Do you have any idea who I am? I was gazing in his eyes and he was gazing into mine.

    My gaze was bloody serious.

    I saw a glimmer of doubt in his eyes. I had to take charge and said: It seems that you have not watched TV lately! Ok, give me your name.

    As much as my sister, her kids, and I were thrilled that the guard relented and came to apologize without really knowing if I was some body or not, as much as I hated what I had to do!

    We are all at fault!

  • Sam, that is a great story, wow, some people in this country really deserve the disrespect, they only do their job if you shout at them or pretend you are someone important.

  • If we remain this way , This country will never get better ! , This is a story i love and it’s well written , Thanks for sharing.

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