How can we end road crashes?


Makkah newspaper

TRAGIC road accidents surprise us almost every day. Many of them are catastrophic, resulting in the death of several people and injuring many others. Poor road system and lack of safety means and signs are the main reasons for growing traffic accidents in the country.

After every accident, family members cry over the death of their loved ones. Nobody else would be there to share the sorrow of these bereaved hearts. People had no choice except to travel on those dangerous roads and the end result becomes dead and shattered bodies.

How many times did our newspapers write about teachers involved in deadly accidents, which occurred due to poor quality of roads or lack of fences and dividers? But what has been done by authorities to stop such recurring road crashes across the Kingdom?

It‘s unfortunate that authorities often take temporary measures to solve such problems. Our responses remain sentimental, rather than practical, and often limited to media reports.

Let’s analyze what happens after a horrendous road accident; Government officials will visit the bereaved family to offer condolences or visit the injured at the hospital, thus closing the file without taking any corrective measures, and perhaps without investigating the cause of the accident.

After every accident the same scenes and procedures are repeated and no corrective measures are taken to prevent similar accidents in the future.

As a result of our miserable condition we remain in deep slumber until another disaster occurs. In a recent tragic accident on the Sabya-Huroub Road, six members of a single family perished, including mother. It was blamed on the lamentable condition of the road or its poor maintenance.

The media reported this horrible accident with prominence. As a result the Transport Minister fired the director of roads in the Jazan region. My question is whether this firing would be enough to end recurringaccidents in the region? I leave the answer to the ministry’s officials.

Do we need terrible accidents and disasters to alert our authorities about the poor condition of roads, especially those arteries that link major cities and townships? Deep potholes and dangerous curves are the hallmarks of these roads. If the Road Department had carried out maintenance works properly and regularly we could have saved many precious lives.

The Transport Ministry has done a great job by constructing state-of-the-art roads linking the regions, cities and villages of the Kingdom. But poor maintenance has undermined its efforts and tarnished its image. In some areas there is no maintenance at all and there is no emergency phone number to inform the ministry and authorities about damaged roads to repair them.

We have already written about some roads such as Madinah-Yanbu and Riyadh-Qassim highways, which lack workshops, health centers and ambulance services. We can imagine if the driver is a diabetic patient and suddenly falls into coma, nobody will be able to save him due to lack of first-aid centers on these vital road systems. An acquaintance of mine died following an accident recently and his relatives had to helplessly witness his death at roadside without receiving any medical treatment.

I do not know the reason for this wide gap between ministries. The Transport Ministry constructs roads and leave them to other departments such as the Health Ministry, the municipality, the Saudi Red Crescent Authority and Saudi Electricity Company. We don’t see any coordination between them.

I wonder if our officials had visited other countries to see their road systems developed and how services are provided in an orderly manner for the benefit of motorists and passengers ensuring their safety and comfort. They have constructed roads in an attractive manner with plants and flowers on both sides and providing service stations after every 10 kilometers.

These modern road systems in other countries enable motorists and passengers cross hundreds of thousands of kilometers without any difficulty. So why don’t we imitate the successful experiences of others to improve our road systems and end woeful road crashes?!