Young Omanis display high levels of risky driving
Muscat Daily – By Madhuparna Bhattacharjee
August 19, 2014
Recent ROP figures show a decline in fatalities and injuries from road crashes, but a closer look at the statistics reveals a worrying trend – a large number of victims are young Omanis.
The ROP says that 2013 saw a 22 per cent decline in deaths in road accidents and a 13 per cent fall in injuries, compared to the previous year. However, a recent report in Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal – titled ‘Factors Contributing to Crashes among Young Drivers – says young drivers involved in road crashes remain a constant concern regardless of changes in the overall data patterns.
“It has been found that young Omani drivers reported higher levels of risky driving behaviour compared to wider international samples,” Dr Lyndel Bates, one of the researchers who worked on the report, told Muscat Daily.
Dr Bates, from the school of criminology and criminal justice of Griffith University in Australia, further said that a large-scale Oman-based study of hospitalised road crash victims found that the majority of patients were young with multiple injuries and that a significant number had resulting symptoms of acquired brain injuries.
“Young car drivers are five to ten times more likely to experience injuries as a result of road crashes compared to drivers among the safest age group, and young males have a higher crash rate than young females,” he said.
Several factors influence the behaviour of young, novice drivers. “Social and situational factors such as socio-economic status, passengers, impairment, mobile phone use, fatigue, social group and peers affect the crash risk of novice drivers.”
Dr Bates said research can be used to assist in planning future strategies targeted at addressing this concern.
“There is only a very small amount of research concerning young drivers within Oman and the other GCC countries and there is a critical need for more research within Oman if the country is to successfully respond to the pressing issue of crash related mortality and morbidity,” he said.
Dr Bates said that while recognising the unique and cultural characteristics of young drivers within the Omani context, it is critical that effective counter-measures are adopted and implemented.
“Furthermore, if Oman is to respond rapidly to this issue, international research in managing young drivers may provide useful insights and strategies that could be quickly assimilated, adopted and implemented in the current driving environment.”
A co-researcher involved in the report, Prof Jeremy Davey from the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety at Queensland University of Technology, said that in many countries, young drivers have persistently had higher crash rates than older drivers and ‘this is also the case in Oman’.
Davey said that recent data has identified a number of characteristics associated with young driver crashes including variables associated with age, gender, passenger characteristics, the time of day, speed, type of vehicle, licence status and nationality, amongst others.
“Interestingly, the presence of passengers similar in age to the young driver increases the risk of crashing,” Davey said. The gender of both, the driver and the passengers, plays an important role in the crash risk. Alcohol was also identified as a risk factor.
“Research using a sample of students and staff from a university in Oman identified that both the age of the driver and years of driving experience were related to rates of self-reported crash involvement,” he said.
The sultanate has one of the highest road crash mortality and morbidity rates in the world at 30.4 per 100,000 people compared to the global average of 19 per 100,000 people, according to World Health Organization.