A mobile phone user
For illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Cairo: Traffic authorities in Saudi Arabia have said that using a cellphone at the wheel is a “rash act” and an offence that is punishable by a fine of up to SR900.

“Using the mobile phone during driving is a rash act putting the driver and others at risk of accidents,” the Traffic Directorate said.

A fine ranging from SR500 to 900 is imposed for this offence, it added.

Authorities also said that driving a vehicle with unclear or damaged number plate is a traffic infringement punishable by fines of SR1,000 to 2,000.

Saudi media has recently reported several deadly accidents.

Earlier in August, six members of one Saudi family were killed in a car crash on a road linking the holy city of Medina and Al Mahd governorate.

Read more

Umrah pilgrims

Last month, two vehicles collided on a road leading to Medina, leaving four people dead.

In May, a bus, carrying university students, collided with a car in the central city of Buraidah, leaving one female student dead and 24 others injured, their university said.

In March, 21 Umrah pilgrims were killed and 29 others injured when their bus turned over in the south-western Asir region.

Annual cost

In recent years, Saudi authorities have toughened penalties against traffic offences to reduce road crashes.

Traffic fatalities have dropped by around 35 per cent in five years from 2016.

The annual cost of traffic accidents in Saudi Arabia is estimated at around SR11.7 billion.

Around 9,420 accidents were registered inside the kingdom’s cities against 7,542 outside them last year, according to official figures.

Those accidents resulted in a total of 4,555 deaths.

Male drivers outpaced women involved in those mishaps, according to a report based on findings by a ministerial committee for traffic safety.