Saudi’s atrocious road safety record could spiral to 4 million accidents a year by 2030 unless there is better discipline by motorists and enforcement of traffic laws, it was reported.
And it comes amid predictions that a person will die on Saudi roads every hour in 2014 if the country’s accident rate continues at its current pace.
According to a study by Hany Hassan, assistant professor of transportation engineering at King Saud University, there were 600,000 crashes recorded in the Kingdom in 2012, resulting in the death of around 7,638 people, the Arab News reports.
On average there are 7,100 road fatalities every year with 38,000 people seriously injured, including seven percent permanently disabled.
The rate equates to 23 deaths per 100,000 people, with an average 19.1 road fatalities occurring daily.
According to World Health Organisation data, the Saudi road toll in 2010 was 29 per 100,000 people.
This compared to 16.9 in Kuwait, 12.1 in Bahrain, 23.7 in Qatar and 21.3 in Oman.
Only the UAE fared worse, at 37.1 deaths per 100,000 people.
“It is really a matter of lack of discipline, and no doubt better enforcement of speed limits and traffic laws would help,” Glenn N. Havinoviski, associate vice president and transportation systems director of Middle East Operations, Iteris Inc, was reported as saying in the Arab News.
“When you see people turning left out of the far right lane and traffic cutting through parking lots and frontage roads, there are clearly some issues with discipline.
He said there was also the issue of enforcement.
“Live police enforcement, as opposed to just cameras, is helpful,” he said.
Havinoviski reportedly said there was a need to manage safety rather than just lumping safety and security together with technology.
He said whether it was stricter driving schools or regular testing for drivers when they renewed their licenses, there needed to be a culture of safety introduced in the Kingdom.
“The infrastructure to me is not the problem, but I see in urban areas that lane markings and the operation of traffic signals could be improved,” Havinoviski was reported as saying.
“Without clear lane markings, roads can be haphazard to travel on. People driving off-road to avoid congestion, which I've seen in Jeddah, is another example of bad behavior.”
The Arab News said experts predicted that if the current rate of traffic accidents continued, the Kingdom may have 4 million accidents a year by 2030.
Recently, the Council of Ministers approved the National Strategic Plan for Traffic Safety, which included a national traffic safety policy specifying broad future traffic plans and measures to cut road accidents.