We Need A Better System To Handle Traffic Accidents In Jordan

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…


  • thanks for the post,
    you are right, we need a new system. i’ve been also in several accidents like this and had the same experience. one of them i had my little kid and she was crying: “baba don’t let them take you to prison”. anyway, you don’t seem to have a suggestion on “the new system”, what do you think it should look like? [at least as a framework]

  • They should definitely aim to finish the report right then and there at the scene of the accident without having to make several trips between the station and each site. They should have a template of the report and be trained on filling it out. One copy for each party, and a third copy stays with the police officer and that’s all the insurance co. should need.

  • well you can have a better system when you have better law enforcement officers instead of those highschool dropouts we get in here !

    also don’t forget when the operator tells you ” hayoo 3al 6areeg” 15 minutes later ” hayoo 3al 6areeg ‘
    an hour later ” ahhh hasa bijeeek hayoo ma37adeth thanii” 90 minutes later ” 5alas ta3aloo 3al ma3’faar”
    ya3ni a government employee will lie to your face as simple as that ! thats why this country sucks !

    and you didnt mention that the policeman bil ma3’faaar bi3amlaak ka ino inta ga3ed bi bait abo maze7 5ara zay wijhom ou tatle3aat 3ala il banat ithaa kan fee …etc

    and if its hot they would not come at all hoping that you guys will just surrender to the facts and leave ! or if he is being a bit good they might tell you come to the ma3’faar 3a tool !

    again am all for burning most of our law enforcements and rebuilding them from scratch ya3ni forsaa ykoon bi3raaf yigraa mnee7 ou ykoon mostawa tafkirooo a7san min il kondara !
    and a bit of english wouldnt be bad !

    ty man !

  • the street that I live on has on average 7 accidents each month, two months ago a young girl was knocked down. The street is made up of two hill roads adjoining to each other by not a roundabout or a traffic light \or any other type of road safety measure. I consistently witness overtaking at high speeds up and down these hills and vehicles creating two or three lanes out of one lane (on each side) – as it’s close to the university of Jordan, there is ridiculous traffic everyday at certain hours.

    When the little girl got knocked over, I went down to the accident investigation team and explained I was a resident and have witnessed countless accidents on the street and now that a girl has been knocked over, it’s time some sort of measure was taken to prevent such things happening again – I recommended simply to place a couple speed bumps on each road to prevent speeding and overtaking and also a rail or posts that would separate the two lanes.

    Their response: “inshallah inshallah, 7ayak Allah”

    Their action so far: Zero…

    Anyway back to the main point – the better system would be for people to swap names and telephone numbers and number plate details and move on and deal with their vehicles with their respective insurance companies. This involves greater coordination between the government vehicle taxing and registration bodies and insurance companies, and for motor insurance companies to further modernize their systems and policies that people buy. Only on the occasion of a very serious road accident should a accident investigation team be deployed, otherwise, its just a waste of time and tax payers money!

  • Thank God it was a minor accident, but why does everything need to get so complicated in this country? If you move your car then the police ask why? So, are we supposed to cause another deal of traffic jam and waste every ones’ time?

    The part when you went to the police station sounds very familiar; it mostly takes place in many governmental institutions so a paper that you can get in two minutes would take 2 hours at times because the employee (police officers are also employees of state) might feel like chatting, a cup of coffee, some phone calls here and there…

    You are right we need a new system overall, and maybe we should give robots a try in reporting accidents as we have a severe case of Nayata.

  • Nas,

    I am a new driver. And you have probably had far more experiences with the police than I have. But I thought about sharing the one experience I had with the “Kroka” police. Just for the sake of being fair.

    I was driving in Khalda once, with a small car, and a man with an SUV drove out from his parking space on the side of the road in reverse and blocked the whole street. This all happened in a split second, which left me no choice but to hammer on the brakes, but because it was raining hard; the street was slippery, and my car had no ABS or braking assist systems, just plain old brakes that skid. So I skidded through the rain onto the back of his huge SUV.

    There was only a very small scratch on the back of his SUV, whereas the front side of my car had been smashed, lights and metal included.

    I had no idea what to do, and it was my very first accident. I called 191 from my phone. I asked about how to handle the event, and I was given the Traffic Department’s phone number. I called them, and they immediately gave me a mobile phone number, an Umniah one as far as I can remember, and asked me to call and report the accident. I called the number in a hurry, the police officer asked me specify the street name and building number, and I did so. This is all through a thunderstorm with strong winds and heavy rain. 5 minutes later, the police van shows up.

    They take out their digital camera, snap photos of the accident scene, and then ask us to enter the van. Inside I was treated perfectly, even though I am just an 18 year old teenager. The other party was an old man in his 40s, and yet he was told that it was his fault, and he payed up for the “Kroka”.

    We left the scene 15 minutes after the accident.

    I was quite satisfied by the whole process, but from other people’s experiences, I guess I just got lucky?

  • We would a new system if we had one in the first place. It all depends on the policeman’s mood, how his day is going, and what’s for lunch that day. 😛

  • Once I witnessed an accident where two men in a car hit a car where a woman was driving. Once the driver got out of the car, I noticed he was wearing a cast on his right foot and had to use crutches in order to walk. The lame man quickly switched places with his passenger and I overheard them conspiring to lie to the police and tell them that the lame guy was the passenger and the passenger was, in fact, the driver. They wanted to pass off their recklessness as the woman’s fault.

    The woman was distraught, of course, and I decided to stick around as a witness and report what I saw to the police. That is what I was taught was my civic duty in America, after all.

    I waited nearby for over an hour for the police to show up. In the meantime, the woman’s brother came to her aid and there was a heated discussion among the men. Once the police finally arrived, I approached and offered my eye-witness testimony, at which point they interrupted me and questioned why I was even bothering them. Even the brother shooed me away. So that was the last time I even took time out of my schedule to help another motorist in a traffic incident. Lesson learned.

  • I read this blog entry a few days ago, now I have my very own Jordan traffic accident experience!

    Parked the car. Just about to get out and bang, get hit from behind! Couldn’t and really still can’t believe it but this young guy managed to hit a parked car! And no it wasn’t parked a metre out from the kerb.

    No problem call the police get the car fixed up through their insurance right? Well after a few calls the traffic incident van turns up and it seems the police are not to interested and can’t be bothered doing the paper work and ‘strongly’ encourage us to agree on a cash payment there and then. Of course the young guy and his father (who turned up before the police arrived) thought that was a great idea. I don’t really care to much about that.

    However, what really surprised me was that the guy who drove into a parked car didn’t even get a ticket! Truly this is a system that is broken. Surely in a situation like this the insurance companies should take care of the damage and the Police the reckless driving – oh yeah my 3 year old son was asleep in his car seat at the time too! No damage done, by the grace of Allah.

Your Two Piasters: