RIYADH: JASSIM ABUZAID & ABDULSALAM AL-THUMAIRYARAB NEWS/AL-EQTISADIAH
Published — Wednesday 27 February 2013
Last update 1 March 2013 3:04 am
Drivers who cause the death of a person while joy riding, or drifting, face a SR 10,000 fine and one year in jail. Further penalties could also be levied.
However, police officials acknowledge that some joyriders will ignore the potential fines and jail time and continue to drive recklessly.
The penalties became effective on Monday, according to Brig. Abdul Rahman Al-Muqbil, director general of the General Directorate of Traffic. Al-Muqbil said the penalties will also apply to first-time offenders.
Offender causing injury face a minimum sentence of six months in jail and SR 5,000 fine.
“But in case of a death, penalties shall include imprisonment of not less than one year, and a fine of not less than SR 10,000, after which the case will be referred to the relevant authorities for further procedures,” said Al-Muqbil.
Police may also confiscate the perpetrator’s vehicle.
Al-Muqbil said the government was introducing tough penalties to protect lives and possessions.
“I personally call on all parties concerned to comply with traffic regulations to maintain public order and establish a safe community,” said Al-Muqbil.
He urged parents to carefully monitor and supervise their children because they are the future of the nation.
Mohammad Al-Ghamdi, a Jeddah resident, said joyriding should be categorized similar to crimes as car theft, murder and “deviant practices” instead of just a traffic violation. The penalty should be issued by the court and the crime must be treated as a first-degree murder if an individual dies as the result of drifting.
Drifting is a sport among young Saudi men who used a controlled spin through steering, braking and gear shifting to slide the car sideways, or even on two wheels. It originated in Japan and has spread across the US and Europe. Small European and Japanese compact cars are popular among young drivers for drifting.
Riyadh traffic department Director Brig. Abdulaziz Abu Humaid said that the department has drawn up a plan to patrol all places where joyriding takes place.
He said that most of the cars involved in joyriding are stolen. He said spectators at these events are equally irresponsible because they encourage and applaud the reckless behavior. Abu Humaid said the penalties are severe because these are serious transgressions of the law. “But the community in general, and the family in particular, have a major role to play in curbing this offensive behavior,” he said.
He said the security forces in Riyadh recently carried out a raid that saw 237 cars impounded. Twenty-one drivers who fled in their cars were detained.
The well-known places for joyriding are west of the Scraps area and Al-Mahdiya District. Officers impounded cars without license plate numbers.
Saudi Arabia lost more than 7,000 people in 2012 in road accidents, according to a Traffic Department report. Seventy-five percent of the casualties are young people, the report said.