Increased Motorization and Road Traffic Accidents in Oman

Article excerpt

Abstract

With the rapid economic growth, modernization and infrastructure development over the last four decades, there has been massive increase in automobile usages and car ownership in the Sultanate of Oman, and road traffic accident (RTA) emerged as a serious public health problem. There is a dearth of literature on motorization problem in Oman owing to paucity and limited access to data in the past. This is an exploratory study, presenting a profile of recent growth trends of motorization and the pattern of related road traffic accidents in Oman. The study is likely to establish the baseline facts about the transportation system and RTA problems in Oman. Data for the study come from Royal Oman Police (ROP) record and World Health Organization (WHO) report for international comparison. On the average there are 230 vehicles per 1,000 population in Oman, which is higher than many middle income countries. Motorization level shows increasing trends in Oman, and between 2000 and 2009, it has increased by 26%. Private car and shared taxi services are the major modes of personal transport in Oman. In 2009, there were 2.67 accidents per 1,000 population or 9.59 accidents per 1,000 registered vehicles in Oman. RTA shows declining trends during the study period. About 70% of the accidents are due to collision: 48% with other vehicles and 22% with fixed objects. Young drivers over represents accident cases in Oman, as 70% of the RTAs happened to drivers aged 17-36 years. Excessive speeding is the main cause of road traffic accident (50%), followed by negligence or careless driving (29%). About 98% of the RTAs are related to human factors. Effective road transportation planning, and traffic safety programme, particularly speed monitoring system, need to be strengthened. The findings of the study may have important policy implications for transport and road safety planning in Oman.

Keywords: road traffic accidents (RTA), motorization, road crashes, Oman.

INTRODUCTION

The Sultanate of Oman is an oil rich Arabian Gulf country. The discovery of oil and gas and subsequently the booms in oil prices since the middle of the 20th century has changed the economy and life style of the people of Arabian Gulf countries including Oman, as the gross domestic product (GDP) and the per capita income grew rapidly in these countries (Bener et al., 1994; El-Sadig et.al., 2002). The country is considered as a middle income country with per capita income $13,343 (MoNE, 2010). Prior to the commercial exploitation of oil in late 1960s, the economy of Oman consisted of subsistence agriculture and fishing. Social and economic infrastructure was almost non-existent. By late 1980s, Oman has been transformed into a modern state with all modern facilities and infrastructures. The standard of living improved enormously since the mid-1980s. In Oman, urbanization occurred in a rapid phase, changing the spatial distribution of the population with intensive migration from rural to urban areas and from interior to more developed areas. Road construction programmes have increased in parallel with other development programmes in Oman. For example, in 1960s Oman had only 10 kilometer paved road (Al- Ismaily and Probert 1998), which increased to more than 25,000 kilometers in 2009 (MoNE, 2010). The result has been a large increase in the number of automobiles usage and car ownership in Oman. Consequently, there has been a massive increase in road traffic accident (RTA) with casualties and fatalities creating a serious public health problem. RTA not only bring immeasurable amount of human sufferings, but also incur huge economic and social costs in Oman.

According to official reports of the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Oman, RTA problem is the number one cause of inpatient deaths and the leading cause of serious injury, disability and premature death among adults (MoH, 2009). The World Health Organization (WHO) has ranked Oman at fourth place in the Arabian Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) states and 57th worldwide as far as the occurrence of traffic accidents and resulting injuries and deaths are concerned (WHO, 2009). …

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