Traffic accidents are the fifth cause of death in Saudi Arabia. If paramedics could easily identify a victim’s loved ones, they might be notified more quickly. Adding the letters ICE (In Case of Emergency) in your mobile phone’s address book to the names of the people that need to know you were involved in an accident would help paramedics and police.
Bob Brotchie, a paramedic in Britain, originally created the ICE program in May 2005. Since then, the program has been adopted worldwide.
The United Arab Emirates implemented the ICE program in 2008. Saudi Arabia hasn’t yet adopted the program.
Since 2009, Ibrahim Al-Aqeel, a Saudi paramedic at the Saudi Red Crescent Authority at Jeddah's Obhur branch has been advocating for the implementation of the ICE program.
“When we as paramedics are usually the first at the scene of an accident, it is sometimes difficult to assist authorities with information concerning who needs to be contacted when an individual's wallet or purse containing their identification is unavailable,” Al-Aqeel explained.
“I believe this initiative would be of great assistance to health officials and other authorities by providing awareness of the dangers of traffic accidents and also in case patients could not provide contact information because they are incapacitated,” Al-Aqeel concluded.
Traffic accidents and ways to keep motorists safe are, as always, growing concerns among traffic police and the Saudi Red Crescent Authority. Especially now, as many travelers tour the Kingdom for the summer and Umrah season.
According to the World Health Organization's (WHO) 2011 Mortality Fact Sheet, traffic accidents are the fifth cause of death in Saudi Arabia, amounting to 29 out of every 100,000 people, which die on the Kingdom's roads.
Nonetheless, some local experts think that the fatality rate is much higher. “The number of people killed in traffic accidents on Saudi roads rose almost 10 percent to just over 7,000 the past year, Khaled Al Eisa, supervisor of the King Abdul-Aziz University (KAAU) Hospital in Jeddah told Arab News in a previous interview.
The figure works out to equal 19.1 deaths every day on average and makes the Kingdom's roads some of the most dangerous in the world.
The question remains why Saudi traffic is so dangerous and what is causing a spike in the number of annual road fatalities.
“We have found that the number one reason to cause most traffic accidents is speeding,” said Fawzi Al-Ansari, spokesman for the Makkah Traffic Police.
He added that there have been a number of initiatives and campaigns launched to create awareness among motorists and punish those who speed. Saher, an automated traffic control and management system to regulate traffic conditions and catch speeders.
“The program has proven successful, however there is still more work that must be done to reduce traffic accidents,” Al-Ansari said.