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Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s worst records on road safety
Jeddah, 30th August 2001

 A traffic policeman has been sacked for registering non-existent traffic violations against unsuspecting Saudi citizens. The policeman was also ordered to pay the fines he imposed for the phony violations. The Traffic Department will now remove the names of the victims from the list of traffic offenders.

Policemen are recording traffic violations by Saudis as part of new regulations adopted by the Traffic Department to reduce road accidents.

Saudi Arabia has one of the world’s worst records on road safety.

According to figures released by the department, 4,848 people died in the Kingdom in accidents last Hijri year alone. And 267,772 others were injured during the same period.

It is estimated that road accidents also result in SR7 billion in losses to the Saudi economy ever year.

One person is killed and eight are injured every two hours on Saudi roads.

Saudi victims of the policeman who has been sacked discovered that the officer had recorded nine incorrect violations on three tickets. The policeman admitted to the “mistake” in front of his superiors, who assured the Saudis that their names would be removed from the record of violators.

The department has set up a tribunal in Jeddah to try violators of traffic regulations which is looking into cases registered by police patrol teams and undercover agents monitoring the traffic in the city. It will also hear appeals by alleged violators against the tickets issued to them.

The tribunal will be ruling on cases concerning traffic offenses until the Justice Ministry sets up separate traffic courts.

According to the new traffic rules and regulations, the police will withhold driving licenses when violations accumulate a certain number of points. The issuance of passports, recruitment visas and exit-re-entry visas will also be dependent on the payment of outstanding traffic fines.

Because of the new regulations, Traffic Department offices are crowded with Saudis and expatriates desperate to settle their fines. More than 800 people a day are crammed into the department’s headquarters off Sahafa Street in Jeddah alone.

The Traffic Department in Jeddah has opened six additional payment centers across the city to reduce the pressure. They were opened after an increase in activity at counters during the summer vacation.

The department registers more than 90,000 violations in Jeddah each month — an average of 3,000 a day. Running red traffic lights, parking violations and driving in the wrong direction in one-way streets are the main offenses.

A new report published by the Traffic Department in Jeddah said that out of 12,738 traffic accidents that took place in the city in June this year, 7,228 involved expatriates and 5,510 Saudis.

The monthly report also highlighted that the figures for married people being victims of traffic accidents was higher compared to those for bachelors. It said the number of victims who were married stood at 8,323, while that of bachelors was 4,415.

Lt. Gen. Asaad Abdul Kareem Al-Fareeh, director of Public Security, recently launched the second phase of a nationwide campaign for traffic safety. He emphasized the vital role of citizens in maintaining safety on roads in particular by informing security officials of any traffic or security violator.

The campaign’s second phase, with the theme “Your Safety is Our Motto”, will focus on speeding as a major cause of accidents. The campaign will also focus on the danger of driving under the influence of narcotics and other intoxicants.

The campaign aims to instill a sense of road safety in the public in addition to building a rapport between the public and security officials. It will be closely monitored and analyzed as the results are collated.

Al-Fareeh said that the first phase of the campaign had been a great success resulting in an 8.6 percent drop in accident deaths and a seven-percent decrease in injuries. The campaign started last November by enforcing a new compulsory seat belt rule.

Source: © Arab News

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30 August, 2001 02:57:23 PM

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