In addition, a growing number of countries in the region have also started strict traffic sign and signal enforcement campaigns (Martin, 2005). In addition, launched in 2009, a governmental campaign to reduce traffic accidents in the Sultanate of Oman has sought to raise awareness among Omanis concerning the need to use safety belts in general and the need to use safety seats for young children every time people take to the road. In addition, the Royal Oman Police, the Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Education have collaborated with the Omani Society Safety on the traffic safety initiatives as discussed further below.
Civil Society. According to Rajhi (2011), there are a number of civic organizations that play an important role in promoting traffic safety and raising public awareness about the need to reduce traffic accidents. These organizations include the Omani Society for Road Safety which is dedicated to serving as a strategic partner with the country's official police forces to reduce traffic accidents. Local organizations such as the Omani Society for Road Safety were formed in 2004 following the introduction of the country-wide traffic safety initiative was proposed by the country's leadership (Rajhi, 2011).
The goals of the Omani Society for Road Safety are reflective of the goals of similarly situated enterprises elsewhere and include the following:
1. Support and encourage adherence to the principles of safety on the road to reduce traffic accidents, injuries and deaths and disability caused by accidents.
2. Advocacy and creating awareness of safety issues on the road;
3. Capacity building in the field of road safety through education and training;
4. Perform necessary research of accidents; and,
5. Create a base for communication between the community and all stakeholders on road safety in the Sultanate (public and private) (Rajhi, 2011, para. 2).
A follow-up Traffic Week campaign was also conducted by the public and private sectors in Oman in 2010 with many of the same goals. In addition, in partnership with the Learn for Life organization, a "Motivating the Drivers" campaign launched in 2012 was developed through collaborative efforts Omani universities, private companies and healthcare officials to address traffic safety issues in Oman, including key behavioural factors such as health, safety, and environment (Oman road safety, 2012). The Motivating the Driver initiative collects and trends relevant traffic accident and mortality figures in an effort to identify discrete problem areas and opportunities for improvement.
Traffic Safety/Accident Countermeasures at the Global Level
At the global level, improved traffic safety programs, as part of a larger initiative to help protect the lives of children, are congruent with the stated goals of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) (Rajhi, 2011). In addition, Oman participated in the first Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Moscow in November 2009. These initiatives are widely regarded as essential to the well-being of citizens in the region. The results of an exhaustive study on road safety released in 2004 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that traffic accidents kill more than 1.2 million people worldwide each year, and these traffic accidents are responsible for as many as 50 million injuries each year as well (Martin, 2005).
The WHO study projected that by the year 2020, traffic accidents will become the third-leading contributor to global medical costs, placing these accidents well ahead of the enormous global costs being experienced through both war and AIDS (Martin, 2005). Oman, together with a number of other Arab nations in the region, face significant economic constraints as a result of the rising public cost of traffic-related injuries and deaths (Martin, 2005). The WHO report found that, "On average the cost of road traffic injuries amounted to 1.5% of GDP in lower income countries, and 2% of GDP for high income countries. But for Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt and Kuwait, the cost may actually exceed 4% of GDP" (Martin, 2005, p. 37). With a gross domestic product of around $83 billion (Oman economy, 2012), these statistics mean that traffic accidents are costing the Sultanate of Oman around $3.3 billion each year.
The research showed that the Sultanate of Oman has a modern transportation infrastructure and police force, but the country continues to suffer an inordinately high level of traffic accidents as well as correspondingly high rates of fatalities and casualties as a result. The Directorate General of the Royal Oman Police was shown to be tasked with ensuring that the vehicles driven on the country's highways are roadworthy, and the Sultanate was shown to have taken aggressive steps to address these unacceptably high traffic accident levels. To this end, a number of public and private sector initiatives have been launched in recent years in an effort to raise public awareness concerning the need for road safety and to use safety belts or car seats for all vehicle passengers. Beyond these initiatives, the Royal Oman Police have also implemented a number of innovative programs to reduce traffic accidents throughout the country, including a mobile initiative that takes the message directly to the people who need it. Although much more remains to be done to reduce the traffic accident rates in Oman, the research was consistent in showing that the problem is well-known and there are efforts at all governmental levels to reverse these ugly trends.
Martin, J. (2005, March). Arab traffic jam: Road traffic accidents are costing Arab states billions of dollars annually, not to mention the catastrophic loss of life. The Middle East, 354, 37-