By Amal Al-Sibai
Were you furious when you were cruising down Jeddah’s Madinah Highway, and were discreetly clicked by a Saher camera? And you raged with anger when you were fined SR300.
Well, don’t be furious because it may affect the ‘cool show’ you are trying to put on by cruising and screeching in your fancy cars, but in reality Saher is saving lives of many such drivers and innocent victims of such sordid show.
A recent study by the Jeddah Traffic Police revealed that the introduction of Saher camera has significantly contributed to the safety of drivers, passengers and pedestrians. The immediate and costly penalties incurred on traffic violators have improved the driving behavior of many motorists, for they fear being clicked by Saher and slapped with heavy fines.
Saher’s objectives are simple but valuable. They want to improve the level of traffic safety, enhance public security, and encourage drivers not to violate traffic rules.
For fulling this noble objective they have resorted to the use of latest technology for surveillance. The system spots and punishes two grave traffic rules, speeding and passing the red light, which were inevitably the leading causes of death.
Drivers were furious on its initial installation and implementation, however now they are acknowledging its presence on the road. Nevertheless, a few drivers still try to act smart by decreasing the speed when driving in that area, and then speeding off as soon as they cross it.
Despite such unethical violation by some drivers, after one year of Saher’s implemention, Jeddah Traffic Police has reported a definite decrease in the number of recorded car accidents and property damage. Saher is also known as Automated Traffic Violations Administering and Monitoring system (ATVAM) and it is gradually increasing the society’s much needed awareness on the dangers of reckless driving; and people have begun to realize its importance.
“Statistics recorded by Jeddah Traffic Police after Saher system was in introduced in Jeddah, from Aug.5, 2010, show a reduction in the number of car accidents and deaths from road accidents. Clearly this modern technology has achieved positive results and is meeting its intended goal, which is making the roads in the city safer.
“The traffic cameras are highly accurate in recording a vehicle’s velocity, acceleration, and crossing of red traffic lights, and consequently imposing fines on the violating driver. What enabled Saher to achieve such success is the persistent support of Prince Mishal Bin Majed Bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Jeddah,” said Col. Muhammad Hassan Al-Qahtani, director of Jeddah Traffic Police.
Al-Qahtani further said, “The data collected in the past year, after Saher, shows a 36 percent reduction in the number of traffic accidents as compared to last year. In addition, the damage to both public and private properties have gone down by 38 percent, personal injuries have decreased by 26 percent, and the number of mortalities due to traffic accidents have significantly decreased by 35 percent.”
He also said that the Saher monitoring system records the velocity of all passing vehicles and not only the violating ones. This allows Jeddah Traffic Police to study and analyze the driving behavior of motorists in Jeddah and to detect any positive or negative changes over time; the result has come out in affirmative.
“The average speed of passing traffic in Jeddah’s streets has declined in the past year. On freeways where the average speed used to be between 150 and 200 km/hr in the initial phases of Saher system, the average speed on those same highways is now around 120 km/h. The highest vehicle speed detected by Saher reached the dangerous speed of 272 km/hr; the car was impounded and its driver was heavily fined.
“Saher also played a critical role in fighting crime by identifying the vehicles that match the police descriptions of the vehicles owned by suspects to help police officers catch these individuals. Several incidents of car thefts have been resolved and the cars were returned to their rightful owners by monitoring the license plate numbers through Saher cameras. It is a project backed by the Ministry of Interior that is helping the traffic police carry out their responsibility of keeping the roads safer,” said Al-Qahtani.