Dangerous driver? There is a price to pay
September 13, 2017 | 9:25 PM
by Gautam Viswanathan/[email protected]
Reckless driving may save you some time but you’re putting lives at risk

Muscat: Being a dangerous driver could cost you your life, but insurers warn it could also wipe out your life savings.

If you’ve caused an accident, insurers might need to shell out as much as OMR200,000 in compensation and damages, industry experts say, and if the accident was your fault they could come after you to recoup their losses.

The warning came as Oman’s Road Safety Association Chief Executive Officer, Ali Al Barwani, warned that there is a growing lack of courtesy on Oman’s roads.

His views were echoed by champion racing driver Ahmad Al Harthy. Speeding up to close gaps on drivers switching lanes or entering the highway, tailgating and undertaking are all becoming more common on the roads, according to experts.

However, Nasser Al Busaidi, managing director of Oman United Insurance Co., said: “If you have caused an accident, you need to be prepared to pay for it.

We have seen claims as high as OMR150,000 or OMR200,000. “For example, if you are involved in an accident where people have died, you have to pay a minimum of OMR15,000 as compensation, per person.”

“If the other person’s car is damaged, you have to pay for the damage, and there are also times when the car cannot be recovered, so then you have to pay for a new one.

All the hospital charges have to be borne by you, all the legal fees also have to be taken on by you.”

He added that while a driver’s insurance can cover these payments, when a driver is at fault, the insurer is entitled to ask them to contribute, force them to court or hike their premiums as a result of the claim.”

“If the money that is needed for insurance is very high, then we need to take that money from other people’s insurance policies, and that means all premiums increase because one person has been careless on the road.”

“Sometimes, a judge will ask you to pay a lot of money to the person, who has been affected by the accident, and if they are insured, we have to take a loss on it. Some people also take loans to pay this off.”

Disobeying the rules of the road might get you to your destination a few minutes ahead of time, but you are playing with your life and the lives of others, according to traffic safety experts and the Royal Oman Police (ROP).

An ROP spokesman said drivers can be classified into categories. “Drivers’ personalities can be classified as normal, angry, cautious, selfish, curious, and nervous,” he said. “Everyone has a responsibility to follow the rules of the road, because we have a duty to protect ourselves and the people around us.

When a reckless driver comes near you or into your lane, you can get scared, so it is important to strictly obey the rules of the Royal Oman Police,” he added.

Ahmad Al Harthy, one of Oman’s greatest racing car drivers, also asked his fellow residents to be more aware when on the roads.

Speaking over the phone, Al Harthy described events just before Times of Oman called him to comment.

Reckless driving

“I just arrived for a meeting, and not less than two minutes ago, the car in front of me did not signal while taking a turn. “People want to arrive first everywhere, but no matter how recklessly you drive, you’ll only be a few seconds ahead of time.”

“All professional racers have that competitive desire to win, but there is always a level of respect that we show to one another,” he added. “Having practised on so many foreign roads, I can say that there is a lot more courtesy shown on those roads than there is in Oman.”

“Some signboards on the side would help raise this issue,” explained Al Harthy.

“There are signboards advising people to drive at the proper speed or asking them to wear seat belts, and maybe we will see these signboards in the future as well.”

Oman’s Road Safety Association’s Al Barwani said there is a growing lack of courtesy on the road. “I have seen an increase in drivers not showing courtesy to others on Oman’s roads, and this is very dangerous,” he said, speaking exclusively to the Times of Oman.

“Whenever I try to enter another lane after I’ve seen a gap, other cars in that lane don’t show me respect and speed up to occupy that space.”

“Sometimes, people will turn without signalling with their indicator, and this is very dangerous, because I don’t know if I need to slow down or not,” he added.

“There are many new, young drivers in Oman and they will surely get scared seeing such things on the road.”

Al Barwani stressed the need for greater awareness among drivers. “A lot of young people are on social media these days, so it would be a good idea to reach out to them via those platforms,” he said.

“Roads belong to everybody so there needs to be more respect.” According to a handbook on accident statistics released by the ROP and the Directorate General of Traffic, 4,721 accidents took place last year, resulting in 692 deaths and 3,261 injuries.

Collisions accounted for 2,076 of those accidents. Speed was the number one cause of death, resulting in 378 deaths and 2,052 injuries from 2,499 accidents.

In addition, drivers between the ages of 16 and 25 accounted for 197 deaths, or 28 per cent of all casualties, and 1,069, or 33 per cent of all injuries.

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