The next time you begin to bemoan your bad fortune over a high priced traffic ticket, keep in mind that were you unfortunate enough to be born in Saudi Arabia, a simple joyride could cost you your head, at least if you're not careful.
That is certainly the case for one unfortunate joyrider who engaged in a favorite automotive pastime in Saudi Arabia and ended up striking and killing two people accidentally. The driver, identified as Mutannish, was engaged in "hagwalah," or "drifting," a form of car play where drivers make their cars skid and spin at high speeds, when he accidentally hit two people.
Like many other freaked out drivers before him, Mutannish fled the scene rather than face police justice, and given what he was sentenced to, we see why. Reuters reports:
A Saudi court sentenced a middle-aged joy-rider to death by beheading for accidentally killing two people while performing a car stunt near the capital Riyadh, the Saudi newspaper Al Watan reported on Tuesday.[...]
"The court of Onaiza handed down a sentence to kill the drifter 'mutannish' by beheading as punishment for his heinous deed and to deter others who tamper with the nation's security," the report stated.
Al Watan did not say when the sentence would be carried out. A Justice Ministry spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Saudi authorities have treated deaths resulting from acts of "drifting" as criminally negligent homicides.
Despite the severe and frankly medieval nature of this punishment, we do have to admit to seeing the Saudis' reasons for being concerned. The car enthusiasts' site Jalopnik describes a similar accident that took place due to the same practice, and it does not sound remotely safe:
Take one, fairly inane, relatively slow speed spin in a Toyota Camry, multiply it times the unpredictable nature of public roads, subtract seatbelts and add spectators and this is the result. The car's going what, 60 MPH? This is the kind of thing that could happen to anyone.
When we show hoonage, it's likely being performed in a responsible manner. Wondering why race cars have 5-point harnesses and roll cages? Why drivers wear fire-proof suits, helmets and HANS restraints? Why race tracks have hundreds of yards of run off, gravel traps and keep the public well away from the cars? This is why.
With that said, beheading is clearly a barbaric approach. Though to be fair, at least it's over quickly - unlike, say, traffic school.