National Tragedy

Omani nationals and residents alike are dying on Oman’s roads in record numbers in 2012. High-impact, head-on or side-swiping collisions caused by loss of control at speed, reckless overtaking, tailgating, distractions or poor driving skills frequently result in multiple fatalities and devastating injuries as bodies and wreckage are scattered far and wide. On narrow 2-lane rural highways other vehicles are often caught up in the mayhem of the first collision. The result is a chain reaction of vehicles colliding into one other, rolling over onto rocky roadsides, or bursting into flames. High fatality and injury rates are fuelled by low rates of seat belt wearing and negligible use of protective restraints for children, the most vulnerable and innocent victims of the carnage.

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin SaidWhile the carnage on the highway affects the individuals involved most, no one is spared the consequences of this immense burden of suffering and loss of human potential. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, in his speech to notables at Saih Al Makarim, on October 18, 2009 described the appalling loss of life and life-long disability resulting from speed and reckless driving as an unacceptable burden on the nation’s progress and prosperity. Traffic-related injuries represent more than 75% of emergency admissions to hospital and are an enormous tax on the health care system. Over-burdened hospitals and resources – around 2% of Oman’s GNP – diverted from the national economy to provide post-crash medical care for injured victims all exact a high price from society at large.

As most individuals killed or injured in crashes are Omani males between the ages of 26-50, there are far-reaching social costs as widows and children are left to cope in the aftermath of the loss of husbands, fathers and sons in their most productive years.