Cell phone use responsible for 7,500 road deaths in 2017

December 11, 2017

Saleh Fareed

Saudi Gazette

— Drivers distracted by text messages and calls on cell phones were responsible for the deaths of 7,489 people on the Kingdom›s roads in 2017, a new campaign revealed.

«Every single time someone takes their eyes or their focus off the road — even for a few seconds —- they put their lives as well as the lives of others in danger,» said Mohammed Bin Ali Swaidan as he got ready to launch “Your Life is More Precious Than a Message” campaign in Jeddah Tuesday.

The campaign is organized in cooperation with the Makkah emirate, Jeddah governorate, the Directorate of Education in Jeddah, the Traffic Department, the Police, Saudi Sports Authority, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah University, Umm Al-Qura University and Taif University.

The initiative aims to contribute to the modification of driver behavior by creating awareness on the dangers of many negative practices behind the wheel through an interactive program combining theory and practice.

«The campaign touches the drivers’ emotions, raises awareness and urges the community to take personal responsibility besides safety. The behavior modification needs to be reflected among the members of society, achieving sustainability on behavioral, cultural and social aspects,” said Swaidan, supervisor of the campaign.

The campaign is an initiative of the Makkah culture forum under the theme “How to Be a Role Model” announced last October by Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, emir of Makkah.

According to Swaidan, the launch of the initiative comes after the alarming statistics on traffic accidents recorded last year. As many as 460,488 accidents causing 7,489 deaths and 33,199 serious injuries were recorded last year, at a rate of one accident every minutes and 4 injuries every hour and 20 deaths a day. About 73 percent of accidents occurred in major cities.

“A total of SR21 billion is wasted annually as a result of road accidents. Saudi Arabia is ranked 23rd on the list of countries with the highest death rates in road accidents in the world. It is second among Arab countries in terms of road deaths,” said Swaidan.

He revealed that the vast majority of people who died on the roads were in the age group of 18-30 years. The mortality rate for males was 88 percent and for females 12 percent.

«A number of reliable studies and researches by prestigious universities and research institutions in different countries of the world found that sending and receiving text messages or talking on cell phones while driving caused a lot of fatal accidents leading to deaths and disabilities,” Swaidan said.

He pointed to the need to raise the index of informed behavior with regard to the rules and procedures of safety and the level of traffic culture.

He explained that the «Your Life is More Precious Than a Message» campaign came out a sense of social responsibility toward the country and its children by reducing the number of accidents, injuries and disabilities that drain the economy.

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