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Safer roads

There is a welcome fall in the number of traffic accidents and road fatalities over the first six months of the year. Road safety managers including the Royal Oman Police deserve all praise for their untiring dedication to improving the Sultanate’s traffic conditions. Statistics made available by the National Centre for Statistics and Information show that traffic accidents fell by a sharp 18 per cent. The number of traffic accidents during the first half of the year was 1,989 when compared to 2,430 last year. Fatalities on the road also showed a drop of 6.5 per cent to 314 during the period. The number of nationals who died on the road also marked a fall to 203 from 213. The data show that the government’s relentless safety drive is yielding results. ROP has been pushing for better safety awareness on the part of road users through its campaigns. The nation, no doubt, is reaping the benefits of uniformly good policing, excellent road engineering and increasing safety awareness on the part of road users. The figures this year is a welcome continuation of the downward trend of last year when the total road accidents fell to 4,219 when compared to 6,279 in 2015. The nearly 33 per cent drop in accidents could not have happened without drastic measures that ROP took to improve road safety. On the one hand, a marked jump in public awareness about road safety and, on the other, a significant improvement in the quality of road infrastructure must be credited with the continuing improvement in the situation. The authorities must be appreciated for pressing on with the two-pronged drive of awareness and enforcement.

A steep increase in traffic fines also seems to have had a positive impact on the Sultanate’s road safety record. Speeding is still one of the major causes of road fatalities. Therefore, the need for ROP to continue and strengthen its drive against speeding must be considered absolutely necessary. Violations like failure to follow the rules including wrong passing, erratic lane changing, driver fatigue and substance abuse are also behind accidents. Traffic accidents must be considered a needless waste as there is always a preventable lapse in concentration on the part of somebody involved in the accident. But the result is a long-standing loss to victims and the communities from which they come. For some, the effects of an accident could last lifelong, like in the case of debilitating injuries or death. Only a high level of awareness to follow the rules meticulously will help prevent them. Those who cry about the steep fines must realise that the increasing number of vehicles necessitate new measures to keep the roads relatively safe. The higher pecuniary loss will have a deterring impact on repeat offenders. The steep finds on violators will definitely have a demonstrative effect on other motorists who would take extra care not to violate the laws. The steady increase in engineering parameters and road quality has also helped reduce accidents. The road infrastructure is undergoing rapid improvement as the nation is adopting world-class processes. The upgrading of single carriage-way roads has helped reduce accidents in some sectors.