The traffic accident rate in Saudi Arabia is very high. 24 out of 100,000 people die every year due to traffic accidents. If you take into consideration the total population of Saudi Arabia i.e. 30 million, 7,200 people die on road every year. It is an alarming figure, isn’t it? I personally believe that most of the accidents take place due to use of mobile phone by the driver while driving. Realizing this fact, Saudi Government has approved changes in traffic law according to which drivers using mobile phone will be jailed for 24 hours.
If a driver uses cell phone while driving, it increases the chances of accident by at least 10 times. As per my personal experience, I observe every third driver talking on mobile phone or using it for chatting while driving. This behavior of drivers must be condemned at every level. There should be seminars at organizational and community levels enlightening the importance of defensive and careful driving. Yes, Saudi Government has intervened into the critical situation by bringing new legislations about the jail term and heavy fine to the drivers caught using cell phone while driving. But there is a big question mark on the word “CAUGHT”. This punishment has already been implemented. Col. Abdulaziz Al-Luhaidan, head of the commission for the development of traffic bodies made the announcement that 60 people have already been penalized last month.
People who are caught using mobile phones while travelling will be sent a message on their registered mobile phone number. If they don’t report to the traffic police, second message followed by the third message will be sent to them. They have to report to the traffic police department to spend 24 hours in Jail. If they don’t report to the traffic police department even after receiving 3 messages from traffic police department, all their MOI services will be cancelled.
Ministry of Interior has stated that they have already cancelled the services of many expatriates and citizens living in Saudi Arabia. They are not allowed to pay the fine using ATM machines or Internet Banking. They will have to appear to the Traffic Police Department and pay the fine there. Following penalties are imposed if someone is caught using mobile phone while driving.
- SR 500 and 24 hours Jail if caught for the first time
- SR 1,500 and 24 hours Jail if caught second time
- SR 15,000, 24 hours Jail and car will be confiscated by traffic police for 30 days if caught third time
Few months ago, traffic police implemented a new rule according to which “Crossing Red light results in 24 Hours Jail”. When traffic police started following the violators, violation rate fell down significantly. I am sure, if our traffic police start taking active action against this violation as well, the accident rate will fall significantly in Saudi Arabia. If you really want to discourage the use of mobile phone while driving in Saudi Arabia, you need to take two steps. Create awareness among the youngsters and punish the violators. Just punishing the violators will not serve the objectives unless general public realizes itself about the importance of safe driving.
Source: Arab News
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