Muscat: Deaths and injuries on Oman’s roads reduced last year, while the number of traffic violations also dropped, since the Royal Oman Police (ROP) amended traffic rules earlier this year.
Fewer offenders were recorded for almost every road traffic offence in 2017, compared to the previous year, according to ROP statistics. An ROP spokesman said drivers are now more aware, thanks to increased policing and awareness campaigns across social media. ROP sends road safety messages across its social media platforms on a daily basis, to educate residents and keep them safe.
The sharp drop in the number of offenders, deaths and injuries has been welcomed by road safety campaigners and residents, alike.
The new traffic law, which came into effect on March 1, has reduced the number of traffic violations, an ROP official told the Times of Oman. The amendments to the new traffic law include strict new rules, which aim to reduce the number of accidents in the country and make the roads safer.
“Drivers have become more aware and cautious while driving, after the new traffic law came into play to avoid paying more fines,” the official added.
Car seats for children, a new points system, seat belts for all, and the banning of mobile phone holders, which are often known to cause distractions among drivers, are some of the new measures under the new traffic law.
According to a recent data released by the police, in 2017, a total of 3,845 accidents occurred, down from 4,721 the previous year.
Speeding was still the most common cause of accidents (2,261 compared to 2,499), whereas negligence (552 compared to 672) and improper behaviour (521 compared to 705) were also leading causes of accidents and deaths on the roads. The National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) reported that 3,845 accidents led to 3,098 injuries. In 2016, 3,261 people were injured on Oman’s roads. Some 624 deaths occurred in 2017, compared to 692 in 2016.
In addition, a further 194 accidents took place in January 2018, a sharp 39% drop from the 318 accidents that took place in the same month during the previous year.
Some 30.9% of these accidents took place in the Muscat Governorate, while 27.8% taking place in the Batinah Governorate.
The Dhofar Governorate witnessed 10.8% of these accidents, and the rest of Oman’s Governorates – Buraimi, Dhakhiliyah, Sharqiyah, Wusta, Dhahirah and
Musandam – saw 30.5% of accidents. Some 71% of accidents took place during the day, with a further 29% occurring at night.
Ali Al Barwani, head of Oman Road Safety Association, was also pleased to see the reduction in traffic fines, but added that getting there had been a team measure.
“It has been a collective measure to ensure that everyone was informed of the new regulations,” he said, adding, “We at ORSA have over served the positive effects of the child seats and seatbelts for all rules. Overall, it has had a noticeable result in the driving culture of Oman. Thanks to the proactive nature of local newspapers, and the ROP on social media and print, we are seeing an assurance by the people of wanting to commit to the new regulations. What needs to happen now is a move towards a safety-first approach, rather than the fear of fines.”
Sabrina Al Busaidi, a citizen of Oman, added: “I am really happy with these regulations, people are actually thinking twice before breaking the rules. Personally, every time I get into a car, I am told to wear my seatbelt even if I am in the back.”
Her view was echoed by Egyptian national Aly Qandeel, who said, “Previously, people would be reckless because they knew that that the fines were not much. But now, they are much more aware, because these fines will hit them hard.”
Taxi driver Mohammed Al Farsi added: “Whenever I have customers in the back, I ask them to wear the seatbelt because I tell them it is for the good of the society as a whole. Yes, some of them do complain, and ask why adults should wear seatbelts, but then I see how safe the roads are in front of me, and I realise that the ROP are taking steps to make Oman a safe nation for all.”
With numerous fines raised to OMR50, motorists have been continuously reading up on the regulations to familiarise themselves with the updates. Fines for parking in spots meant for the disabled were previously OMR10, the penalty incurred for overtaking on the shoulder of the road was OMR15, driving with a licence of another category was also of a similar amount, covering the face while driving would also previously set people back by OMR15. A straight OMR50 fine will also be slapped on those who install equipment to raise the engine power or sound.