As the Sultanate prepares for its Road Safety Week starting 15th March, safety expert and renowned motivational speaker Sheikh Khalfan Al Esry, has narrowed down to four, the main causes of road accidents in Oman.
Listing them as failure to use seatbelts, speeding, using mobile phones while driving and fatigue, Al Esry, drew from his years of experience as Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Manager at Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) as well as copious other examples from research, stressing that these four causes could be eliminated if people paid more attention to safety and made it a priority while driving rather than blaming the occurrence of road accidents on fate and pre-determination.
“Before you start the engine of your car, wear seatbelts, not because of the police not because of Oman LNG but because of yourself. The first main cause of road accidents in Oman is due to people not wearing their seatbelts. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, passenger seat or the back seats, it’s important to wear seatbelts. It doesn’t matter whether you are going at a speed of ten kilometres an hour or one hundred kilometres an hour and it doesn’t matter if the distance is just around the corner or some 100 kilometres away, before you start your engine to go anywhere, it is important to wear your seat belts.”
Khalfan spoke as the main facilitator kick-starting the Health, Safety and Environment (HSE) Week of Oman LNG in Muscat yesterday. Themed Doing the Right Things, the week involves a series of activities for staff, their families and the wider society to grow and sustain awareness for safety, health and the environment.
He cautioned against fast driving, noting that speeding is a major killer for motorists because “the faster you go, the more difficult it is to control your vehicle. Your reaction time in responding to an emergency is also slow, so it’s never safe to speed. It’s better to be late than to never arrive”.
One other cause of road accidents in the Sultanate is the use of mobile phones while driving. This reduces concentration and drivers see virtually nothing while picking calls or texting and driving simultaneously as they try to balance driving and offering a response in conversations over the mobile phone. Drivers are better off parking in designated areas on the roads to make and answer calls and text messages before continuing their journey.
The fourth reason for road accidents is fatigue in drivers. Advising drivers to ensure they are well–rested before embarking on any journey, Al Esry warned that some drivers fall asleep while driving and cause accidents for themselves, their loved ones and other road users. “Your eyes can be open but your brain is sleeping and no matter how much you rinse your face with water, or drink hot coffee, your brain wants to sleep and this reduces your concentration.” He cautioned: “It is better for you to catch a nap, sleep for some time and be refreshed for the journey.”
Whilst acknowledging that Oman LNG and other companies in the oil and gas sector in Oman are at the vanguard of safety awareness, he urged that the knowledge on safety, health and the environment should be shared for the benefit of everyone in the society. Oman LNG, for instance has engaged the Sur community and the society in Muscat for its HSE Week beginning 6th March through to 11th March.
Khalfan Al Esry has over twenty years experience in technical and people management, of which ten years has been at the corporate level and involves embedding safe working culture in organisations. He has made major contributions towards supporting organisations and societies with several programmes, including coaching for performance, multicultural awareness and team building.
Oman is said to have one of the highest rate of road accidents in the world when compared to its population put at some 2.6 million people by estimates. According to some reports the number of fatalities due to road accidents reached a new high last year with over 1,000 people killed in more than 7,000 accidents with some pedestrians among those killed.