Saudi Arabia has seen a dramatic decrease in traffic accidents and related injuries and deaths in 2018 compared to last year, according to the kingdom’s Ministry of Transport.
Official figures released in a paper presented by the ministry’s safety department showed a 33 per cent reduction in road accident-related deaths so far this year from 2,331 to 1,560.
The number of accidents was also down 25 per cent from 17,632 to 13,221 and related injuries fell 25.5 per cent from 14,481 to 10,755.
Director general of the safety department Mohammed Mesfer Al Abboud attributed the reductions to road safety initiatives launched this year.
These include tough new punishments for traffic violations, including fines and lengthy prison sentences for causing injury or death, and a crackdown on mobile phone usage.
The kingdom has also introduced traffic safety equipment including high tensile fencing, protective barriers and rotating shock absorbers to reduce injuries.
Al Abboud said the main causes of road deaths included reckless or preoccupied driving, collisions with camels and a lack of roadsafety.
The kingdom aims to reach a rate of eight road deaths per 100,000 citizens from 26 per 100,000 in 2015.
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.
Al Abboud said the kingdom had saved SAR165m ($43.98m) this year by addressing 41 of 81 traffic accident hotspots and expected to save a further SAR3.3bn ($879.76m) over the next decade, with the amount doubling if all hotspots are dealt with.