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‘Saher’ traffic system to monitor, track vehicles
Automatic traffic tickets to be issued using license plate recognition technology
April 21, 2010 8:15 by Katherine Azmeh
A state-of-the-art traffic management system that can monitor vehicles and track them using license plate recognition technology was launched on Monday.
“Saher,” as the system is called, has been in development for a year and also monitors traffic violations as they happen.
It works by requesting information from a database at the Riyadh Traffic Center, then issuing an automatic ticket whenever a traffic violation has been committed.
However, there are concerns about the system’s efficiency and whether it is using a comprehensive and up-to-date database of drivers’ details.
One week before the Saher was launched, Riyadh’s Traffic Department launched a road safety campaign in coordination with other cities in the Kingdom.
However, many eyewitnesses noticed that during the campaign and while traffic police were monitoring traffic lights, violations were still occurring frequently.
There are also concerns from the public over whether around 130 unmarked traffic police cars are enough to patrol such a large city and if expatriate motorists will be penalized differently.
Arab News’ calls to Riyadh’s traffic officials have been unanswered for three days.
The penalty for motorists speeding through red lights was reformed in 2008. In the past, offenders were suspended from driving for 24 hours, in addition to a minimum SR500 fine that increased if it was not paid within a month. Now, only the fine remains.
According to a paper presented at a forum on national road traffic safety in 2009, there were 4.3 million road accidents from 1989 to 2008 in the Kingdom, resulting in over 86,500 deaths and more than 610,000 injuries. Seven percent of survivors suffer at least one disability.
More than 60 percent of road accidents are caused by reckless driving, while speeding through a red light causes 34 percent of accidents.
It has been 16 years since a national forum on traffic safety was organized by the National Committee for Traffic Safety at King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology.
The forum aimed to identify the causes of road traffic accidents and how to reduce them, yet the recommendations have taken a very long time to be implemented.
The General Directory for Traffic revealed in its report in 2006 that every three hours, two people die on the Kingdom’s roads.