Get familiar with new Oman traffic rules, drivers advised
September 2, 2016 | 10:31 PM
by REJIMON K / [email protected]

Muscat: Road safety experts have urged motorists to familiarise themselves with the new traffic rules that will come into effect from Sunday, September 4.

On August 4, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said had issued a Royal Decree 38/2016 adopting a zero tolerance approach to motoring offences, with a raft of new laws.

The new laws have provisions to jail errant drivers and hit them in the wallet. In some cases, the new fines are almost 10 times the previous level.

When the laws come into effect, the lowest jail term awarded will be 10 days, while the maximum sentence will be two years and fines that start from OMR100 and could go up to OMR3,000.

At the moment the fine for using a phone while driving is just OMR35. After September 4, that will jump to OMR300.

“The introduction of the new traffic legislation could mean a difficult time for road users as they come to terms with the new laws. All drivers should familiarise themselves with the new rules and be aware of the consequences of breaking those laws,” Mark Pudwell, a safety expert, said.

Fines that go up to OMR3,000 and jail terms that reach two years will come into effect if an accident takes place and the victim either dies or is permanently disabled as a result of negligence, drunk driving or recklessness.

A senior Royal Oman Police (ROP) official had told the Times of Oman earlier that these punishments should help prevent accidents and loss of life.

“People will be more aware of themselves and the fines they can receive. This would definitely help curb the number of accidents, injuries and deaths,” said the ROP official.

Meanwhile, Neelesh Sogani, a road safety expert and Corporate HSE Manager at Powertech Engineering LLC, said the new harsh punishments and penalties imposed by authorities are a sign that we have reached a point that ‘enough is enough’ and now the time has come to use a stick for changing driving behaviour on the roads.

“I urge everybody to review their own behaviour behind the steering wheel and should think that every single life is important and non-replaceable for the families and dependants (of the killed or injured),” Sogani stressed.

“More than the legal requirements, it is important for us to abide with every single road safety rule, whether it is for speeding or changing lanes, negotiating roundabouts or junctions or avoid getting distracted while driving by not using mobile or making ourselves busy in texting or socialising on smart phones. If do not correct our behaviour on the road, then the authorities will require more prisons,” Sogani added.

Seventy two people died in road accidents in June 2016 in Oman, reflecting an 8.4 per cent increase, compared with the same period in the previous year, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).

That translates to about 2.4 deaths per day.

In May, ROP registered 54 road deaths. However, the Sultanate witnessed a 37 per cent drop in the number of car accidents last month, compared with June 2015.

Breaking down the figures, 45 Omani nationals and 27 expatriates lost their lives last month in different traffic accidents.

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