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A fight worth taking on

Apr 12,2017 - Last updated at Apr 12,2017

With the rate of fatalities and injuries from road accidents in the country still on the rise, His Majesty King Abdullah found it necessary to personally intervene by calling on drivers to respect and abide by traffic rules and regulations.

“Every day,” said the King in a tweet, “we lose a child or a young person as a result on non- compliance with traffic laws.”

“We all have to fight this phenomenon with determination and responsibility,” he also said.

A more recent, heart-wrenching road accident, a two-vehicle collision, occurred in Mafraq; it took the life of four children and injured 23 people.

The mother of one of the killed children died later from a heart attack, triggered no doubt by grief over the loss of her child.

Last month, another traffic tragedy on the Desert Highway killed eight and injured 19.

And there is no end to it. The toll keeps on mounting and the reasons are many.

Speed is one. Reckless drivers, usually on the younger side, can often be seen racing, clearly ignorant of the danger.

Bus drivers, including those driving students to and from schools or universities, often fail to realise the responsibility they have for the lives of the many people they transport. They can often be seen speeding up, changing lanes at will, nudging their way, intimidating with the size of their vehicle.

And then, there are the cell phones, the bane of all banes.

A quick look at people driving around in the capital, at any time of the day, very often shows drivers on the phone, talking, checking Facebook accounts or, and this is not hearsay, texting, oblivious to the world around, to traffic rules and civil behaviour.

The alarming picture of mounting traffic casualties, or even of less deadly car accidents, calls for urgent measures to ensure that drivers observe traffic rules.

The Central Traffic Department statistics on road accidents show that in 2016, hundreds of people died and thousands were gravely or lightly injured in about 8,000 traffic accidents.

According to the Ministry of Transport, the cost of these accidents amounted to about $2 billion, which constitutes about 5.6 per cent of the country’s GDP.

The losses, both in lives and material, are too big to be ignored. Yet, it seems that no matter how much efforts is exerted by the government or civil society to combat this problem, it keeps on growing.

Increasing fines for traffic violations could be one way to stem the tide. 

In the UK, for example, the penalty for using a hand-held phone could be as little as £200, but the culprit could be taken to court where he/she can be banned from driving or riding, get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if driving a lorry or a bus), or lose the licence if the driver had passed the driving test in the last two years.

Also needed is increased awareness about traffic accidents, both at home and in school, and very strongly through the media.

 

The cost of the carnage on our roads is too high. Something serious has to be done about it.

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