Saudi Arabia Has the Highest Road Accident Death Toll in the World

Time to turn Saudi youth onto bicycling: video of dangerous stunts on the rise in young Saudi males who purposefully “drift” cars.

An average of 17 Saudi Arabian residents die on the country’s roads each day, a report by the Kingdom’s General Directorate of Traffic has revealed. The news comes after the World Health Organization found Saudi Arabia to have the world’s highest number of deaths from road accidents, which now make up the country’s principal cause of death in adult males aged 16 to 36. First reported by the Saudi daily Arab News, the study found that 6,485 people had died and more than 36,000 were injured in over 485,000 traffic accidents during 2008 and 2009.

There was no official reaction to the unfortunate world record, and Saudi analysts pointed to larger underlying problems.

“The driving problems are with young people,” Ali Abdul-Rahman Al-Mazyad, a Saudi columnist in Riyadh told The Media Line. “There are very little outlets for young people to enjoy themselves and kids basically do what they want.”

“There is also not such great education in schools about driving and respecting the road,” he said. “Drug use is also a contributing factor. These are the central problems.”

The report found that almost a third of traffic accidents in the Saudi capital Riyadh were due to drivers jumping red lights, followed by 18 percent of accidents caused by illegal U-turns. The most common dangerous driving activities were speeding, sudden stops and speaking on the phone while driving.

Over the past two decades Saudi Arabia has recorded 4 million traffic accidents, leading to 86,000 deaths and 611,000 injuries, 7 percent of which resulted in permanent disabilities.

A recent study at the King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), a Riyadh-based scientific research group, warned that if the current rise in road accident rates is not curbed, Saudi Arabia will have over 4 million traffic accidents a year by 2030.

Silvio Saadi, a Jeddah-based businessman and film producer, argued that both the government and an out-of-control youth culture were to blame.

“You won’t believe what you see,” he told The Media Line. “It’s just crazy.”

“Saudis often try to drift with normal cars and thousands of spectators on the sides of the street,” he said, referring to an informal motor sport in which drivers intentionally over-steer so as to lose traction and drift on the road. “Sometimes the car drifts into the spectators, slamming them into buildings along the sidewalk.”

Saadi said that while the government has made some initiatives, they have fallen short of an aggressive road safety campaign.

“Outside the city, the police often cannot stop them,” he said. “The police are actually scared because there can be thousands of them. A few years ago they built a Jeddah raceway to attract young people to do it on the track instead of on the streets, but people still like to do it the old fashioned Bedouin way.”

“We get approached every year by government departments to produce public service announcements about speeding but most of the time nothing comes of it,” Saadi added. “Who knows what happens, but there is a lot of corruption. They probably take budgets from the government to do public service announcements and then don’t do it.”

Video of crazy road stunt as Saudi youth skate on the road.

Saudi Arabia has long had a taste for expensive cars, and spottings of young Saudis cruising the streets of Jeddah and Riyadh in Maseratis, Ferraris, Porsches and Harley Davidson motorbikes are increasingly commonplace.

One of the Middle East’s largest car markets, automobile sales make up about three percent of Saudi Arabia’s gross domestic product.

Following overstated fears that the global recession might seriously weaken the Arab world’s largest economy, Saudi car sales are now expected to boom. The kingdom’s car market, including both commercial automobiles and transport infrastructure, is currently worth about $9 billion. The market is expected to grow by 30 percent in 2010.

Over 675,000 cars are expected to be sold in 2010 to a population of just under 25 million.

(This story by Benjamin Joffe-Walt is reprinted with permission by The Media Line, the Mideast News Source.)

58 thoughts on “Saudi Arabia Has the Highest Road Accident Death Toll in the World

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  20. khalid

    Saudi drivers follow the rules. Expats are worst. If you check the police report you see majority of accidents expat is at fault and Saudi is innocent.

    • Charles Smith

      Are you serious? You might be able to sell that story to someone who has no clue. Me on the other hand, know the truth! Saudis are the worse drivers! They don’t follow the traffic rules and you would be lucky to find a police officer who is willing to enforce rules. I live here and work here so I see it every day!

      • Faisal

        Well what both you and khalid said are true. The blame goes mostly to the government who didn’t do much to enforce the law and control the streets. Expats with no driving skills at all learn to drive by “trial and error” on our rolads, and the Saudi people violate the traffic laws coz no one is enforcing it.

    • Mariam

      What?? Who are you fooling?if saudi’s were obeying the rules the accident rate would have decreased, all you see outside is them drifting outside everywhere even in the main road,but I also blame the government for not enforcing a strict law about driving recklessly and drifting ,in general it’s not only the saudi’s who are reckless it’s almost everyone who lives here.

    • hanooo

      I’m not agree with some point you mention our country have rules but some people over law not all time and as any country have bad and good things and we thanks Allah we are life in better environment and we love our country yes some behavior not good but with time it can be change.
      we have little kids like to try drive but with common time will be fixed.


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  28. Joseph Bernard

    Traffic rules are for non Saudis not for Saudis. Over speed causes most of the innocents death.

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  30. Keith Trippen

    The obvious link here is that WOMEN AREN’T ALLOWED TO DRIVE IN SAUDI ARABIA.
    It’s no coincidence that the only country in the world that doesn’t let women drive also has the highest road death rate.

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  34. Abdualziz

    how can I SAY THAT
    I am citizen in KSA.
    there is too things to solve this
    1-is to put a new lane only for these people.
    2-is ti make a strict law more than saher.

    that is the only things that ever could be considered.

    have a safe day and a good mode.

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  39. Charles Parsons

    In fact I cant even be sure if ot was a car accident or if he is dead as I cant seem to get a death certificate or his nortal remains back to South Africa, there is always some sort of issue. He was employed at KAUST and the employer keeps saying they still need to do this and then theu need to do that, then they are waiting for an autopsy but if I am willing to have him cremated there then they will send the ashes soonest?????

  40. Charles Parsons

    My friend died in a car accident on the 22nd March 2011 and I am struggling to get information on what happened. Where do I direct my questions so that I may get some answers? Please Help

  41. Lenvin

    My honda accord 20004 car got hit from a hyundai accent who was taking a illegal u-turn from the 3rd lane and I was in the first one

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  43. mohd.farhan

    the speed limit in saudi highway is 120 k.m/h. But many vehicle go beyond that and police dont do anything.Also i notice that saudi people are always in hurry and they violate traffic rules

  44. Lee

    As a Saudi resident all I can say is that the general driver in Saudi is reckless. It is not uncommon for a driver do attempt a u-turn in heavy traffic from the extreme right hand lane. There is no discipline or common sense, and of course no policing. Yet, if an accident occurs there is a pecking order to wich blame is assigned depending on country of origin and religion. Crazy and scary!They seem not to register that two vehicles can not inhabit the same space at the same time!

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  47. Speak the Truth

    bull**** – KSA has no traffic police no road markings rubbish signs and a street system not clear, there is no one good map of cities with streets, streets all have three four names try looking on a map of just 4 roads and your head will be confusedand the signs cannot be read by drivers or pedestriansall this leaves drivers coonfused & lost, no proper planning of roads or consistency, roadworks with no workers taking several years to complete repairs while there are endless diversions. As for this idioit saying oh youth have no where to go ! no thanks there are more reasons they include 50% population working 6 days a week exhausted tired and stateless minorities without passport or places to go for labour disputes, all this makes for a frantic society in a rush to see family after working 10hr days


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