Photo of drug addict – File photo
CAIRO – 24 July 2017: Article 76 of Traffic Law no. 121 from 2008 states that any highway driver that tests positive in a random drug test, will have their license withdrawn for a period no more than 2 years.
Violators will be referred to the public persecution, punished with imprisonment for a period of no less than 2 years, and fined LE 10,000 ($554.60). Should the road accident result in a fatality, the perpetrator will face up to 5 years in prison.
Deaths and permanent disabilities resulting from road accidents are punishable for a period of 3-7 years and a LE 20,000 penalty fee. The driver’s license will be revoked and he/she will not be issued a new one for a period equal to that of the term imprisonment term.
Driving under the influence of drugs has caused fatalities and disabilities of thousands of citizens in past years. Subsequently, the government’s ongoing endeavors to prevent road accidents, loss of life and to protect pedestrians from speeding drivers have doubled. Crack downs on bad driving, conducting drug tests and harsh restrictive amendments on traffic law were all amongst the government’s measures to restrict drivers’ illegal behavior on the road.
The year 2014 witnessed a climax in road accidents. On November 5, a grave accident involving a bus carrying Egyptian school children took place. The blighted bus crashed into three other vehicles and a tanker truck on the Cairo-Alexandria Agricultural Road in Beheira governorate. Tragically, 18 children died and their corpses were burnt beyond recognition.
In the aftermath of the collision, the government adopted tougher restrictive measures. New restrictions went into effect on trucks and trailers. Drivers of trucks were banned from travelling on highways between 6 am and 11 pm.
A national survey conducted by the Anti-Addiction Fund in 2014 indicated that nearly 24 percent of Egyptian drivers operate their vehicles under the influence of drugs. Based on this information, the confirmed finding that the driver of the Beheira accident tested positive for hashish was not a surprise for many.
Based on this accident, the government imposed harsher penalties for formerly incarcerated drivers, subjecting them to random drug tests. But, there is good news; traffic authorities have recorded a decline in positive tests after the tougher amendments on traffic law went into effect.
According to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), there were 6.2 fatalities, 15.8 severe injuries and 3,479 light injuries in 2015. Furthermore, 32 percent of those injured lost their lives, which is an increase from 2014’s rate of 25.8 percent.
The road accident rate in 2015 was 1.6 incidents per 10,000 people in 2015, compared to 1.7 incidents per 10,000 people in 2014. In 2015, the number of accidents amounted to 42.6 percent of fatalities compared to 43.3 percent in 2014.
According to these rates, the responsibility cannot be placed on drivers alone. A study made by Ahmed Shelbaya, the head of the Nada Foundation for Safer Egyptian Roads, suggests that there is more to road accidents than attributing them to human error.
“Since there’s a person driving and a person crossing the road, naturally the human element is the base, but the surrounding environment and the system has a considerable effect on that human element,” Shelbaya explained.
Vehicles condition ranks second as a cause for road accidents. They were said to have caused 21.9 percent of accidents. The third factor is road infrastructure, reportedly causing 2.4 percent of accidents.