Saudi Arabia has issued tough new punishments for traffic violations including fines and lengthy prison sentences for causing injury or death, according to reports.
Saudi Gazette said the amended traffic regulation punishes eight types of violations. It comes as the kingdom faces up to 20 deaths linked to traffic accidents each day.
The new violations start at SAR100-150 ($27-40) for leaving a vehicle with its engine running, not possessing insurance, crossing roads in areas unspecified for pedestrians and failing to give way to pedestrians at crossings.
Motorists will be charged SAR150-300 for not using indicators while changing lanes, reversing for more than 20m on main roads, not holding a licence, excessive use of their car horn, not taking their vehicle for maintenance, not wearing a seatbelt, failing to leave sufficient distance between vehicles and crowding at the scene of accidents.
Other crimes include SAR300-500 for littering, not focussing on driving, holding an expired licence and not using a child seat and SAR500-900 for following emergency vehicles using a siren, not stopping at traffic signals, writing slogans or putting stickers on cars and tinting windows beyond specified limits.
Drivers can also be fined SAR1,000-2,000 for not having a number plate or using a damaged late, carrying more passengers than specified in the registration, not using lights when driving at night and gathering at joy riding areas.
Fines increase to SAR3,000-6000 for skipping a traffic signal, overtaking buses when students are disembarking and driving on the wrong side of the road and SAR5,000-10,000 for driving using another car’s number plate or erasing or concealing the number plate.
Beyond these tiers, more substantial punishments will be issued for causing accidents that result in injuries or death.
If a driver causes an accident that results in a person being hospitalised for up to 15 days they will be imprisoned for at least two years and fined SAR100,000 ($26,660), or both.
Causing an accident that results in death or impairment will be punished by a maximum of four years in jail and an up to SAR200,000 ($53,321) fine, or both.
Furthermore, drivers who have their vehicle impounded and do not retrieve it within 90 days will see it put up for auction.
The Ministry of Transport is aiming to bring down the rate of deaths from road accidents to one for every 100,000 people from 26.8 per 100,000 people.
The current figure is well above the average rate of 9.2 per 100,000 recorded in high-income countries, the 17.4 world average and even the 24.1 per 100,000 average in low income countries recorded by the World Health Organisation.