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Motor vehicles are the primary form of transportation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. In the past decade, the number of traffic accidents has been rising due to an increase in the number of vehicles and an expanded road network. Currently, road accidents are a public health issue that needs the swift implementation of mitigation measures. Road accident fatalities cause the most significant percentage of deaths in hospitals. This issue has important consequences for both the economy of the country and the people of Saudi Arabia.
Government statistics reveal that fatalities caused by traffic accidents account for approximately 4.7% of all reported deaths. For instance, in 2017 alone, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and Police Department released a report that cited the number of fatalities as 7489 and the number of injuries as 33,139 (Lee and Al-Mansour 1). The National Transportation Strategy cites education, training, and stricter licensing regulations as possible mitigation measures. However, more needs to be done. This paper aims to propose ways of improving traffic safety education in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to improve traffic safety and lower cases of accidents.
Training and Paying Penalties
One of the measures used to improve traffic safety education is to impose penalties on violators and compelling them to take traffic classes. The success of this measure will be determined by five main factors: education, enforcement, evaluation, coordination, and cooperation. A penalty point system should be created and implemented. It will comprise various components: the awarding of points for multiple traffic breaches and heavy penalties.
The proposed system will be based on the degree of traffic violations committed by offenders. For instance, various traffic offenses will be assigned points that will be used to determine the amount of fine to be paid. Examples of crimes that should be penalized include the driver’s failure to fasten seat belts, driving beyond legal speeds, driving under the influence, going to designated places, and driving while texting or talking on the phone (Lee and Al-Mansour 3). Offenders will be required to use their intelligent driving licenses to pay fines as determined by a law enforcement officer.
Moreover, violators of traffic rules will be expected to attend classes, whose cost will be covered by the penalties. Therefore, the fines should be relatively higher than they are currently. The money will be used to buy instruction materials, visual aids and pay professionals who will be participating in training classes. It will be necessary for drivers to cooperate with law enforcement officers in order to guarantee the success of the plan.
The aforementioned classes will be conducted in traffic offices. Traffic officers will take shifts in teaching the participants. In order for the lessons to be practical, they should be interactive and use visual aids to enhance comprehension. Each individual will be required to attend at least 12 hours of instruction under a qualified officer. The classes must be completed within a period of two weeks, during which the driver’s licenses of the participants are temporarily suspended until the completion of the program.
The majority of traffic accidents happen in cities. Therefore, a simulation of a city will be used for instruction. The program should also provide a detailed list of offenses that are violations of traffic laws and that are the leading causes of accidents. These include speeding, sudden lane change, disregarding traffic signals, and failure to fasten seat belts. In that regard, the drivers will receive basic training in defensive driving. This portion of the training will have several benefits: increase awareness when driving under bad weather conditions, increase preparedness for unexpected events, and improve alertness. Moreover, it will help them to control the speed of driving and learn how to react safely to other road users.
The main goal of the classes will be to improve the behaviors of the drivers and improve their traffic safety knowledge through education and training. The success of this program will primarily depend on the strengthening and implementation of institutional frameworks with regard to the implementation and enforcement of the proposed plan (Lee and Al-Mansour 3). The material for the classes will include several topics: types and statistics of accidents in Saudi Arabia, a reiteration of traffic rules, the economic, social, and psychological effects of accidents, legal provisions, road safety rules, and rules for safer driving (using mobile phones, responses to accidents, driving on highways, and driving under unfavorable weather) (Lee and Al-Mansour 5).
The use of visual aids like videos and pictures will increase the attention of the participants and help them understand and remember the content of the classes. Each individual will be required to participate actively in-class activities such as answering how they would react to specific traffic incidences on the road. At the end of the program, a test that will cover the material taught in the classes will be administered. Anyone who fails to pass will be expected to repeat the courses and retake the test. Moreover, the suspension of their driving license will continue until they satisfy the instructor of their comprehension of traffic safety measures.
Awareness Creation through Advertisement
One of the most effective ways of increasing traffic safety awareness is creating awareness through advertisements. This could be achieved through the use of various platforms, including television, newspapers, magazines, and the internet. Awareness creation through the internet would be primarily directed at younger people. In the last decade, the presence of young people on social media has increased significantly.
On the other hand, the number of road accidents has increased. Therefore, reaching out to the young people through regular and sustained campaigns is necessary. Awareness creation should be conducted in two main ways. First, the media should refrain from showing pictures and videos that promote dangerous behaviors on the road. Secondly, the media should spread road safety knowledge by airing programs that teach drivers how to protect themselves and others. Driver sensitization about their responsibility to save their lives and those of other users through responsible driving should be a priority.
Social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can be used by government agencies responsible for road safety to carry out safety campaigns. For example, YouTube could be used to provide information about the dangers of ignoring safety rules through educational videos. The primary goal of such campaigns should be to persuade people to change their attitudes and behaviors regarding road safety. This could be accomplished by reminding drivers about the importance of obeying traffic rules and the legal implications of contravening them. The rising number of accidents is an indication that current laws and regulations are ineffective.
Lee, Mark Seongkwan, and Abdullah Al-Mansour. Development of a New Traffic Safety Education Material for the Future Drivers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Science Direct. 2018. Web.