Muscat, Oct 10 – While mortalities and injuries continue to be a source of much grief for the families of road accident victims in the Sultanate, there is growing evidence that the Omani government’s efforts to rein in this menace is paying off.
Those efforts are being spearheaded by the Royal Oman Police (ROP), which along with a number of public sector, private and community stakeholders, has succeeded in putting the brakes on what has long been an uptrend in traffic mishaps.
Figures released by the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) reveal a significant drop in road accidents for the first eight months of this year. Mishaps remarkably declined by 17.5 per cent as of August-end this year compared with the same period last year.
This is not to suggest that horrific accidents are a thing of the past. According to an ROP official, speeding and the use of mobile phones while driving are the principal causes of road mishaps. “Around 30 per cent of fatal road crashes in the Sultanate occur on account of speeding. Such crashes are responsible for 40 per cent of deaths reported on the Sultanate’s roads, as well as 30 per cent of injuries,” the official observed.
Significantly, 52 per cent of accidents occur after dark, the official noted, citing figures for August 2017. This underscores the importance of greater attention and care while driving at night, he said.
Additionally, there is a higher probability of an accident occurring when a vehicle is speeding, the ROP official pointed out. The severity of the accident rises in proportion to the speed of the vehicle, he stressed.
This link between speeding and accidents is borne out by research studies. In addition, experts point out that a vehicle rolling at 50 km/h will come to a complete stop after approximately 25 metres once the brakes are applied. For cars hurtling at 100 km/h, it covers a distance of about 80 metres before coming to a halt. Experts deduce that by reducing speeds by about 10km/h, the risk of road accidents can be minimised by 20 per cent.
In terms of accidents, Muscat Governorate led the field with 29.7 per cent of the total, followed by Al Batinah South (16.8 per cent), Dhofar (10.8 per cent) and Al Sharqiyah North (8.2 per cent), according to NCSI.
Muscat-based motorist Khalid says he agrees with the NCSI’s finding that speeding is the dominant factor behind the epidemic of mishaps and fatalities on Oman’s roads.
“It is well known that vehicles cannot be easily controlled at high speed and tend to spin or go off the road when braked. Stricter patrolling and greater radar control will help tackle this problem, alongside a concerted awareness campaign,” he said.
Speaking to the Observer, Khalid also emphasised the need for motorists to ensure that their vehicles are roadworthy at all times. “I make sure my vehicle is regularly maintained and in good running condition. This is key. Besides, I always check the tyre pressure before setting out. One other thing that motorists need to keep in mind is to avoid driving if they are tired or sleepy. Fatigue has been identified as one of the major causes of road accidents,” he said.
Hammam al Badi