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Cameras to detect use of mobile phone while driving

Saudi Arabia, November 8, 2017

The Traffic Department is setting up cameras along roads to detect motorists who use mobile phones while driving as studies have found that this violation is one of the main reasons behind accidents. Cameras will also detect motorists who do not use seat belts.

“Cameras have been set up and it’s in the final stage of operation,” said Brig. Mohammed Al-Bassami, director general of the department, while speaking to Al-Hayat Arabic daily.

He said the use of mobile phones has been found to be the second most important reason after speed driving for growing number of road accidents in the Kingdom. However, he said the rate of such accidents would vary from one region to another.

“I would say it’s one of the main reasons for traffic accidents,” Al-Bassami said and urged motorists not to use mobile phones while driving to ensure safety of themselves and other road users.

“If a motorist is found watching a video circulated through the social media, it would be a clear evidence against him for using mobile phone while driving and the traffic police will have the right to issue a ticket against him,” the director general said.

Referring to the department’s plan to show traffic violation on Channel One of Saudi Television, Al-Bassami said his organization was setting out a mechanism to show such violations in order to discourage motorists from violating traffic rules and ensure traffic safety.

He said the department would communicate with experts who have conducted studies on traffic issues to know its authenticity and make use of their findings to reduce accidents.

In a related development, a scientific study conducted by King Abdullah Medical Research Center in Riyadh showed 13.8 percent of motorists in the capital city used mobile phones while driving.

Dr. Sulaiman Al-Ghannam, head of the research team, said the study was based on traffic accidents that have taken place in Riyadh. “Our researchers monitored a total of 1,700 cars in 13 main traffic zones of the capital city including expressways and interior roads,” he explained.

He said there are about five million cars in Riyadh. “Our study has showed that about 660 motorists in Riyadh are preoccupied with mobile phones while driving posing a security threat to other motorists and passengers in the city,” he pointed out.

The department has not yet published any accurate report on the rate of accidents caused by the use of mobile phones while driving. But Musaed Al-Rubaish, a lawyer who specializes in traffic matters, said the rate of such accidents is very high.

“The interior minister has asked to include this violation (use of mobile phone while driving) among the four major lists of traffic violations and has called for toughening punishment for such violators and increasing fines to be imposed upon them,” said Al-Rubaish.

Commenting on the department’s plan to show violations on television screens, he said it would not be possible if there are women in the car. “It will put the department in an embarrassing situation. The traffic law must be changed to air such TV shots,” he said.

Motorists who commit 11 dangerous violations must be noted and their photos and videos should be published through television after making necessary alterations in the law, he added.

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