Muscat: Traffic accidents continues to be a big worry with almost a 25 per cent increase in deaths in Oman during 2011, according to Lt General Hassan Bin Mohsin Al Shraiqi, Inspector-General of Police and Customs.

Presiding over the second meeting of the National Committee for Road Safety at the Police Headquarters in Qurum on Saturday, the top police officer in the country said: "1,051 fatalities and 11,322 injuries in road accidents last year (2011) in Oman is a worrying trend, even though the Sultanate is not considered among the countries with high rate of road crashes."

In the last 11 years, nearly 11,000 people have lost their lives on Oman's roads and 70,000 have been injured, some disabled for life.

A marginal drop in road accidents deaths in 2010, 820 dead against 953 in 2009, had raised hopes and with the Royal Oman Police (ROP)  intensifying its awareness campaign as well as enforcing traffic regulations strictly, expectations were high for drop in traffic accident related fatalities.

However, with the motorists not paying heed to repeated appeals from the ROP, speed and reckless driving continue to be the bigger killer. Moreover, the rate of injuries has risen to almost 35 per cent. In 2010, 7,571 people received moderate to serious injuries due to road accidents while 11,322 people were injured last year.

Lt General Al Shraiqi said that to change this trend more co-ordinated efforts from all public and private institutions were needed. "Then only we can reduce accidents."

The police chief said that the Royal Oman Police (ROP) appreciates all efforts that were exerted to cut down road accidents and vows to continue its campaign aiming at increasing public awareness and to bring traffic safety culture among people.

"The ROP is constantly monitoring the roads to apprehend violators of traffic rules especially reckless drivers who put the lives of other road-users at risk," he added.

The Committee also reviewed plans aimed at increasing traffic patrols in all governorates and to install more fixed and mobile radars to monitor roads.

The meeting discussed ways to cut down accidents at specific spots and reviewed the measures prepared by the Technical Committee of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. It entrusted the ROP with the task of identifying these spots and submit a report to the Technical Committee.