Accidents on the country's roads increased by almost 20 per cent in 2008, compared with the previous year. Data released yesterday by the Ministry of Interior showed a 19.6 per cent rise in traffic accidents from 8,872 in 2007 to 10,611 in 2008. At the same time, the number of deaths increased from 1,056 to 1,071. The rate of deaths per 100,000 people fell, however, from 15.8 in 2007 to 13.3 last year. The number of injuries increased from 11,155 to 12,273, but again the ratio decreased as there was a 10 per cent drop in injuries for every 100,000 accidents. Col Gheath al Zaabi, the traffic department director at the ministry, said the increase in accidents, deaths and injuries was natural as there had been an increase in the population and in the number of vehicles on the road.
The traffic department carried a huge burden in training and testing thousands of applicants who wish to acquire a driving licence, a requirement for economic and social growth, he said. Col al Zaabi stressed that fewer traffic offences had occurred since the black points system was introduced: violations dropped by 4.46 per cent last year compared with 2007. He attributed the drop to less speeding. Lack of good judgment by motorists topped the list of factors behind last year's accidents, he revealed.
Such accidents reached 2,821, which accounts for 21.34 per cent of the overall total. Driving on to the road without checking if it is safe to do so was the second factor, accounting for 11.43 per cent of the accidents. Accidents caused by this rose dramatically from just 1.83 per cent in 2007. This could be a result of municipalities carrying out increased construction works on the roads, said Col al Zaabi. Crashes caused by jumping a red light increased by 1.62 per cent last year.