MUSCAT: Speeding an overloaded vehicle and using a mobile phone while driving resulted in Saturday’s Hamriya accident. Two persons were killed and another was in the incident, a top police official said.
“Speeding, overloaded and using a mobile phone while driving resulted in the accident,” Col Saeed Nasser Al Siyabi from Royal Oman Police said.
“Additionally, nine people who were filming the accident were also arrested by the police,” the police official added.
An Omani and his Bangladeshi helper died in the accident while another Bangladeshi helper suffered critical injuries.
An official from the Bangladeshi embassy said that the injured passenger is in critical condition.
“He is critical. We are in touch with hospital authorities and following medical updates,” Zahed Ahmed, a senior official from the Bangladesh embassy said, adding that paper work is being submitted to repatriate the deceased’s body.
According to Mark Pudwell, a training manager at Competence HR, the most serious road safety issue in Oman is the use of mobile phones while driving.
“It has become one of the biggest single causes of road traffic incidents and can no longer be ignored,” Mark said.
“Punitive action for this socially unacceptable practice has to be implemented. Until drivers believe that they will be heavily punished for using a mobile phone, it will continue to affect the lives of so many, unnecessarily,” Mark said.
Another road safety expert said many accidents, including at the Hamriya flyover, occur because of distracted driving.
“Online socialising while driving and talking over the phone will surely distract a driver, reducing his capability to control his vehicle if an emergency occurs,” added Neelesh Sogani, a road safety expert.
Recently, the ROP intensified its campaign against the use of mobile phones while driving.
According to ROP, using a phone while driving poses a greater danger than being under the influence of alcohol.
“Studies indicate that the probability of an accident happening is greater with a driver who uses a phone while driving, than with someone under the influence of alcohol,” the ROP said.
The ROP further said, based on research, that drivers who become disturbed are most prone to accidents. Using a mobile phone disturbs drivers, distracts the mind and prevents drivers from focusing on the road.
According to ROP, the number of drivers who use a mobile phone while driving is “high” in the Sultanate, although ROP said it did not have specific statistics on the number of accidents occurring as a result of the use of mobile phones.
The fine for using a phone while driving is currently OMR35, a spokesperson of the ROP said.
Additionally, the ROP issued a new law last month to punish red-light jumpers. The law states that drivers who fail to stop at a red light risk a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to OMR500.