Saudi Mulls Raising Minimum Age For Drivers

The Kingdom’s Shoura Council is examining a proposal that suggests raising the minimum age of drivers to 20.



Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council is examining a proposal that suggests raising the minimum age for drivers in the country, local daily Arab News reported.

The Kingdom’s advisory body is mulling the possibility of increasing the age of drivers of private cars and motorbikes to 20 and to 23 for heavy vehicles after a surge in road accidents.

The council might also suggest amendments to the current rules, which require traffic violations to be registered in the name of the guardian, or the one permitting the youth to drive, it was reported.

Currently the minimum age to earn a license in the Kingdom to drive private vehicles is 18 while applicants need to be at least 16 to earn a license to ride motorbikes, according to Riyadh Traffic Department.

The council is also looking to impose stricter penalties on those found to be driving under the influence of mental stimulants or drugs.

Saudi Arabia has one of the highest rates of road accidents in the world with approximately 7,100 people affected from it every year.

According to the General Directorate of Traffic, the Kingdom has 23 deaths per 100,000 with an average of 19.1 road fatalities occurring daily.

At the current rate, Saudi Arabia is estimated to see four million road accidents by 2030, officials said last year.

The high rate of accidents has also resulted in a massive economic strain. The country spends around $250 million annually to treat injured drivers while an additional $6 billion is spent on matters related to car accidents- representing four per cent of the national income, Saudi Gazette reported.

In a bid to bring order to the Kingdom’s roads and stem the rising number of accidents, the council of ministers approved the National Strategic Plan for Traffic Safety in 2013.

The aim of the plan, when implemented, is to drastically cut the percentage of traffic accidents in Saudi Arabia.