Despite efforts to curtail the number of accidents and traffic-related injuries including the introduction of the Saher traffic monitoring system, the Kingdom’s roads remain a dangerous place where it is a common sight to see drivers flouting rules. Reckless driving behavior and a complete disregard for the safety of other road users has prompted many to avoid driving as much as possible. The situation on the highways, where monitoring is often laxer than it is in cities, is particularly perilous. Al-Riyadh daily reports on how the statistics on road fatalities and injuries are so alarming that many members of the public have called for a complete restructuring of the Traffic Department and its rules and regulations as the only solution.
Mansour Al-Arfaj, director of Al-Qassim municipal council, said most drivers do not respect the road and traffic rules despite the fines that are imposed on offenders. He called for redesigning roads in cities to eliminate traffic jams so drivers are less stressed out and are on the roads less. He also said the concerned authorities should erect more signs on roads to remind drivers of the speed limit and warn them of hazards.
“Technical and regulatory standards should be followed when installing stoplights. For example, if the red light lasts for a long time, it is more likely that a driver will be tempted to run the light. It’s all about the behavior of drivers and if we want to improve this, we should improve the services provided to drivers,” Al-Arfaj said.
“Before asking drivers to improve their behavior and obey traffic laws, it is important that the regulations, rules and road environment be improved first. Only then will drivers be compliant with and respectful to the rules,” he added.
Citizen Ibrahim Al-Majhadi said most drivers act as if they own the roads when they should respect the rules and understand that there are other drivers who use the roads too.
“Raising public awareness cannot be achieved by campaigns that take place at a certain time of the year and are not constant throughout the year. All members of society — men, women and children — should be educated about the traffic rules, regulations, dangers and accidents,” he said.
Abdulrahman Al-Sulami, assistant supervisor of Psychological Rehabilitation Center, Buraidah, said reckless behavior is attributed to the way the driver was raised when he was a child. “It reflects the fact that the driver has a weak personality that cannot and does not want to cope with other road users. Stricter rules need to be drafted to protect public safety,”Al-Sulami said.
Sultan Al-Othaim, human development researcher, said most drivers who go to traffic court are reckless and have a tendency to break traffic rules. He said in developed countries, all highways are monitored by radar and violators of rules risk having their licenses confiscated and getting referred to a traffic court. “There are deterring penalties for drivers and that is why these countries have safe roads. I hope the Kingdom follows in the footsteps of these countries,” he said.
Brig. Abdullah Al-Sehaibani, Al-Qassim Traffic Department director, said most accidents take place because of reckless young drivers. He called upon educational institutions and mosques to increase their partnership and cooperation with the traffic authorities in order to raise public awareness about accidents.
“We regularly review the traffic rules and regulations and ensure they keep up with the latest developments in the field. The most important thing, in my opinion, is the respect of and compliance with traffic laws,” he said.