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Saudi traffic accidents kill 16 daily, injure 275,000 annually
April 22, 2010 8:35 by Katherine Azmeh
More than 275,000 men, women and children are injured annually as a result of traffic accidents across the Kingdom, according to the health minister on Wednesday.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said that the huge number of road accident victims was putting pressure on government hospitals.
Quoting the latest report issued by the administration of hospitals, which functions under the Health Ministry, Al-Rabeeah also pointed out that about 6,000 people die in the Kingdom every year due to traffic accidents. This works out as 16 people a day and 500 monthly.
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.
Reckless driving is the cause of about 60 percent of accidents in the country while speeding through a red light causes 34 percent of accidents.
Al-Rabeeah emphasized the importance of the recently introduced electronic “Saher” system for the automatic detection of traffic violations, saying that it would play a big role in safeguarding the lives of Saudis and citizens from reckless drivers.
“The fall in road accidents will have a positive impact on public health facilities in the country,” he pointed out.
The former chairman of the National Traffic Safety Committee Ali Al-Ghamdi, who is currently a professor of traffic and transport engineering at King Saud University, said about a third of all beds in government hospitals are occupied by road accident victims.
He estimated the annual cost of road accidents at about SR26 billion, equal to four percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
Al-Rabeeah called for nationwide campaigns to raise public awareness on the need to abide by traffic and road safety regulations in order to avoid fatal accidents.
“We have instructed health directorates across the Kingdom to carry out special traffic safety awareness programs in order to realize the objectives of the Saher program,” he said.
Saher will be used to catch speeding drivers as well as those who jump red lights. The system uses digital cameras to monitor traffic violations.
The violator is caught on camera and his vehicle’s number plate recorded. The central database will provide the duty officer with information about the vehicle’s owner, who can then be penalized.