Road Travel: Safety First

Road Travel: Safety First Road Travel: Safety First

Iranians in large numbers travel across the country during Iranian New Year (Norouz) holidays (March 19-April 1). It is the busiest and heaviest travel season in the country for decades. Travelling, holidaying and meeting near and dear ones is very good and also necessary.

That is obviously the plus side. The minus pops in when one looks at the road mishaps and how innocent people and motorists die every year during the crowded holiday season when it seems that all Iranians are travelling at the same time!

Every year, before the start of the Norouz holidays, Traffic Police launches special plans to help facilitate safe travel reduce accidents. “This year’s Norouz traffic plan was implemented from March 15,” said Brigadier General Taqi Mehri, head of the Iranian Traffic Police.

Deploying extra traffic police to curb reckless driving, broadcasting special programs on TV and radio to inform drivers of the risks of reckless driving, provision of cross-country real-time traffic information, and 20% surcharge on 40 perilous traffic violations were among the key measures taken to reduce road casualties during the annual holidays.  

While more than 1.5 million driving licenses were issued and over 1.3 million new vehicles were registered last year (ended March 19), there was an overall downward trend in road mishaps this year, thanks to the strict measures taken by police, the senior police was quoted by saying by the local media.

In another preventive measure, more than 100 surveillance cameras to register traffic violations were added on major roadways few weeks before the masses took to the highways and freeways across the country. This was the first phase of a new project will install over two years 1,800 smart cameras to monitor traffic violations on all major roads and junctions in the country.

According to the latest figures reported by the Traffic Police, 344 deaths were recorded during the first 12 days of the 13-day holiday. It is estimated that the numbers will increase as more holidaymakers return home by Friday.

The data recorded by police is related only to the deaths at the scene of accidents. Many victims lose their lives after being transferred to the hospitals or a few days after the accidents. Therefore the exact figures are unclear and should be announced later by Iranian Legal Medicine Organization (ILMO).

  Improving Statistics

In 2015 the number of road deaths during the two-week Norouz season fell and was in the three-digit category for the first time in two decades as 968 deaths were reported. So far this year the estimated road toll is 4% less compared to last year.

According to figures provided by the ILMO, 1318, 1141, 1227 and 1084 individuals lost their lives in fatal traffic accidents during the holidays in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 respectively.

“The rates dropped significantly after development and adoption of the comprehensive traffic law in 2010 and its implementation in 2011,” Mehri said.  

One of the strategies introduced in the traffic law was ‘penalty point system’ which has proved very effective in checking traffic offences as well as reckless driving in all the streets in cities, freeways, highways across the country where a traffic police officer and/or the special cameras are present.

Under the system, each traffic offense means a number of negative points. If the total points on a person’s record equal or exceed specific number of points, the court can suspend the driving license. “Last year, licenses of more than 550 drivers were suspended,” the general said.

  Key Factors

Stating that the leading cause of traffic deaths (the cause of 44% of all traffic accident deaths) is vehicle rollover crashes as a result of speeding, he said “careless driving, not paying enough attention to the roads, overtaking when prohibited and driver fatigue are other major reasons for the road accidents.”

Accidents caused by motorcyclists account for 10% of all road fatalities.

While roughly half of the road fatalities are related to drivers’ risky behavior, according to official figures, hazardous road conditions including narrow roads, sharp turns, and lack of guardrails or inadequate guardrails, lack of or inappropriate warning of road work, as well as poor quality of vehicles in domestic market including the range of Kia’s Pride produced by Iran’s second leading auto manufacturer SAIPA, also contribute to the deadly road accidents.

Pride has been designed to move at speeds of up to 120 kilometers an hour, but available figures indicate it would be highly dangerous to do so. According to data released by the police, 30% of all reported accidents during this year’s Norouz holiday involved the small vehicle.

Experts are of the opinion that the Pride is suitable for inner-city trips and drivers must follow all driving regulations to avoid harm to themselves and others.