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Kingdom’s roads among ‘the world’s most dangerous’

Traffic safety tops agenda of GCC meet in Abu Dhabi

Last updated: Friday, November 09, 2012 12:29 AM
Zeina Nazer

Saudi Gazette report


JEDDAH/DUBAI — Despite government initiatives to save lives and reduce traffic congestion, Saudi roads remain among the most dangerous in the world, with an average of 19 road fatalities occurring daily, a road safety expert has said.

Zeina Nazer, managing director of Innova Consulting and Secretary General of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) Arab, said the number of fatalities on Saudi roads have grown by 10 percent so far in 2012, accounting for billions of dollars of remedial government costs.

“Saudi Arabia spends $6 billion per year on the management of car accidents, and $250 million per year on medical care for those injured on Saudi roads, while an average of 19.1 deaths a day makes the country among the most dangerous in the world for drivers,” said Nazer.

“Motorists can be seen running red lights, speeding, racing, or driving in a reckless and aggressive fashion, while most car accidents are mainly caused by young male drivers due to their lack of responsibility and careless attitudes.”

A road safety expert with more than 15 years of ITS in the Gulf region, Nazer’s comments come ahead of the Gulf Traffic Exhibition and Conference, taking place from Nov. 19-21 N at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC).

The dedicated three-day event for the road, public transport and parking sectors will bring together more than 100 exhibitors involved in the design, build, and maintenance of the region’s road, rail, parking and public transport projects.

The two-day conference meanwhile will put a spotlight on the latest technologies to help drive road safety in the Gulf region, including the role of police and public participation, the development of data strategies and analysis, increasing pedestrian safety, and advanced ITS implementation.

Nazer said that though Saudi road fatalities are currently far too high, recent initiatives by authorities to curb the road toll are now being implemented.

“The Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Interior have taken major steps forward to save lives and reduce traffic congestion,” added Nazer. “The Automated Traffic Violation Administering and Monitoring project is currently deploying advanced digital photo citation systems at 1,600 intersections in Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, Madinah, Tabuk and Qassim to cite red-light and speeding violators.

“After having been untouched in the last three decades, new laws to further improve traffic safety and flow are also finally on the way with the restructured Board of the High Traffic Council.”

According to the World Health Organization, Gulf residents are seven times more likely to die in a car accident than UK residents.

Nazer said that the main causes of road accidents in the region are related to recklessness and the careless behaviors of young drivers who dominate the roads of the region, with an unusual aggressiveness and a perceived «need for speed.

»She added: “An overwhelming absence of driver lane discipline and failure to properly use turn signals and obey traffic lights amplifies the frequent stress and danger of driving in the GCC.”

An official supporter of Gulf Traffic, ITS Arab is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting a partnership between transport professionals, decision makers, academic institutions and the industry.

Now in its seventh edition, and organized by Informa Exhibitions, Gulf Traffic is endorsed by the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation (CIHT), with other official supporters including the Abu Dhabi Police, Saaed, and the Law Respect Bureau.

Gulf Traffic attracts more than 3,000 transport industry professionals and government agencies from across the Middle East.

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