Saudi drivers
Saudi driving stunt

A car accident happens every minute on average in Saudi Arabia, or more than 460,000 crashes per year.

This year alone, more than 7,000 people have died due to car accidents in the kingdom. In 2016, the death toll was higher than 9,000.

“More than 7,000 people have died so far this year in traffic accidents, an average of 20 per day, with almost one third (30 percent) aged between 18 and 30," officers from the Saudi Interior Ministry said at a panel discussion on road safety, according to Gulf News

"Around 70 per cent of the accidents happen outside urban areas and the remaining 30 in cities."

Brigadier Mohammad Al Bassami, the kingdom head of traffic, explained that a major review has been undertaken, looking into all procedures regarding traffic and car accidents.

"There is now a review of all operational plans and electronic operations at the directorate of traffic along improving procedures, especially following the order to allow women to dive," Al Bassami said, discussing the alarming rate of crashes and related deaths in the kingdom.

According to a report by Arab News in May, 12 percent of all fatalities in Saudi Arabia were related to car accidents in 2016. In that year, there was an average of 25 traffic-related deaths per day.

This marked the highest increase in traffic-related deaths since 2007. However, overall, things are getting better due to the introduction of the kingdom's electronic traffic management system: Saher.

"The introduction of Saher system has reduced the severity of traffic accident injuries by 20 percent and mortality rate by 37.8 percent,” Sulaiman Al-Ghannam, a principal investigator, told Arab News.

This year, while still remarkably high, the rate of crashes and related deaths appears slightly lower than 2016. 

Over the last few years, the kingdom has taken a hard look at traffic fatalities. Fines for reckless driving were dramatically increased in 2016 in an effort to deter stunts such as drifting.

While the fine was previously between 1,000 and 2,000 Saudi riyals, the kingdom raised it to a minimum of 20,000 Saudi riyals ($5,332) for first-time offenders.

The fine doubles to 40,000 Saudi riyals for second-time offenders and the car will be impounded for 30 days. Third-time offenders will be slapped with a 60,000 Saudi riyal fine and their vehicles face potential permanent confiscation.