Manama: A car accident happens every 10 minutes in Kuwait, prompting traffic safety officials to sound the alarm in the northern Arabian Gulf country.
“We are facing a dramatic increase in human, social and economic losses as a result of the hike in the number of accidents in the country,” Bader Al Matar, the head of the Kuwaiti Traffic Safety Society, has said. “We have six accidents every hour on average and the figures for June are tragic. We had 40 deaths, nine Kuwaitis and 31 expatriates, and the figure included eight women. We are truly worried and there is a need for prompt and decisive action to end this haemorrhage on our roads. We are deeply afraid about what lies ahead.”
Traffic safety does not happen by chance and careful studies and dedicated efforts are needed, he added.
“We have to appreciate and implement that prevention is more significant than cure and we need strategies that work. We also need a better traffic culture in which Kuwaiti citizens and foreigners are fully committed to rules and regulations on the road and to ensuring their cars are truly fit for the road. They need to do away with their mobiles whenever they are driving,” he said, quoted by Kuwaiti daily Al Kuwaitiyah.
According to recent traffic figures, 2,366 occurred in Kuwait from 2012 until the first half of 2017.
Crossing red lights, excessive speed and the use of mobiles topped the causes of the accidents that occurred in 2017.
Recklessness and lack of responsible behaviour were also cited among the major causes of road crashes.
The figures indicated that 917,447 accidents have occurred since 2012. There were 86,271 accidents in 2012, 89,527 in 2013, 99,047 in 2014, 77,961 in 2015, and 71,582 in 2016. The figure is 23,529 in the first four months of this year.
Accident deaths in 2012 were 454, going down to 445 in 2013, but increasing to 461 in 2014. In 2015, there were 429 deaths while the figure was 153 up to April in 2017.
Despite the strenuous efforts exerted by the traffic authorities to instil a better driving culture and shrug off an infamous world ranking in accident averages, the figures indicate that the task is formidable.
In recent years, Kuwait resorted to deporting foreigners who dangerously broke traffic rules, outing lives at risk.
According to the National Traffic Strategy, the money spent by Kuwait to deal with accidents represents around 6 per cent of its annual gross domestic product.
More than 25,000 Kuwaitis, mostly relatives of those involved in accidents, are affected every year, the strategy, prepared by an international expert, said.