Arab News translates a piece from Okaz Arabic daily about Saher, the traffic camera system recently implemented in the Kingdom. Naturally enough, those who receive traffic tickets as a result are not pleased. Traffic cameras are not perfect. In the US, there is a strong move against them because it’s been discovered that rather than promoting traffic safety, they’re being used by municipalities to promote their incomes! Some cities, it seems, have shortened the duration of amber lights—which are supposed to warn drivers to slow and be prepared to stop—in order to put more cars in the camera’s red light zones. More, there are some disturbing statistics that when the locations of red light cameras are widely known, the incident of rear-end collisions rises dramatically.

The Saher system seems, however, to involve both stop light and speed cameras. At present, only two US states, Arizona and Maryland, use speed cameras. They’re pretty widespread across Europe however. Speed cameras are less subject to manipulation and do provide a check—even if only a monetary penalty—against speeding. Of course, cash-short authorities can play around with trigger speeds, but that’s a bit harder to get away with.

Driving in Saudi Arabia is not a pleasant affair. While many drivers seem to think that they’re on German Autobahns, they are not. Saudi highways are not up to the safety standards of the Autobahns; drivers in Saudi Arabia are not up to the standards of German drivers, either. In Germany, one can’t get a driver’s license until age 18. And that license costs somewhere between $1,800-$2,000! Implementing that aspect of driving would certainly bring down the rate of traffic accidents and fatalities! It could also help develop a sense of personal responsibility, beyond what automated cameras do.

Saher never sleeps

Many people who complained about the Saher system after being notified by SMS that they had committed a traffic violation later found out that there are photographs to prove that the violation had taken place and that there is no way to deny it.

One of my friends became extremely angry, saying he was not in the country when the violation took place. After calming down, he realized that his being in the country was not necessary for a violation to take place; the car was his and was being driven by somebody else when the violation took place.

This reminded me of an editor in chief who threatened to publish an exclusive story the next day in his paper about a Saudi woman who received a traffic fine. However, when he was told that it is normal for a woman to receive a traffic violation if the car is registered under her name, he felt embarrassed and did not publish the story.

I read a letter from a Saudi citizen who called on the authorities to stop Saher. I was about to accept what he was advocating as this was his right to express what he wishes freely. However, when I learned he owned a taxi company, I understood exactly why he wanted to stop the system.

I want all those who call for the system to be scrapped to think for one second about the large number of deadly traffic accidents that happen every day.

May:27:2010 - 05:03 | Comments & Trackbacks (1) | Permalink
One Response to “Saudi Traffic Cameras”
  1. 1
    Solomon2 Said:
    May:27:2010 - 06:41 

    “At present, only two US states, Arizona and Maryland, use speed cameras.”

    Washington, D.C. also employs speed cameras. The preferred locations in both D.C. and Md. seem to be at the bottom of hills, so whereas before one could just zoom through now we have the spectacle of everyone hitting the brakes at the bottom and then flooring the accelerator afterward. The waste of fuel and brake linings must be in the millions of dollars.

    However, a very few speed cameras are employed in areas that need them, near schools or heavily-used pedestrian crossings.

    Although my county employs red-light cameras as well, I haven’t noticed short-timed amber lights as a problem.

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