Lebanon News

Black weekend as at least 11 die in traffic accidents

BEIRUT: At least 11 people in Lebanon died from Friday till Sunday in car accidents, putting the spotlight on Lebanon’s road safety once again.

“In the last 24 hours five died, and the day before another five. ... This is a much higher number than usual,” Mohammad Daher, who monitors traffic at the Traffic Management Center, told The Daily Star.

Ziad Akel, the founder of YASA International, a road safety organization said the 10 deaths were only those who died on the spot. “There are others that die in the days after an accident due to injuries suffered,” he told The Daily Star.

An eleventh victim was reported to have died late Sunday in an accident in north Lebanon’s Safra.

Daher said that in the preceding 24 hours alone there had been a total of 21 accidents and 25 injuries.

One of these deaths was 16-year-old Hamza Maadarany, who died in the early hours of Sunday from a car accident on the Zahle highway, the state-run National News Agency reported. The incident occurred when Maadarany’s car collided with a pole at the Al-Fayda bridge.

According to Daher, the month of August saw a total of 562 accidents, with 776 injuries and 45 deaths.

Future Movement MP Rola Tabsh commented on the number of deaths in a tweet, saying that the “number of victims of car accidents in the last few hours is unacceptable. We are driving on the streets of death. These tragedies must be brought to an end quickly because everyone has become endangered while commuting. May God have mercy on the dead and heal the wounded.”

YASA posted pictures of accident victims on its Twitter page.

“It is unfortunate that the summer of 2019 brought so much grief resulting from traffic accidents. ... What is required is serious and immediate attention to road safety in Lebanon,” YASA said in the tweet accompanying the victims’ photos.

Akel called on the government to take “serious” and “urgent” measures to ensure the safety of residents on the roads of Lebanon. He also said the residents play a key part “but the Interior Ministry ... the Internal Security Forces and [TMC] need to take decisive and immediate measures to address the causes of death on the streets.”

While Daher maintains that the main cause of accidents is reckless speeding and distracted driving, others also blame Lebanon’s poor road conditions. One Twitter user said that while safe driving is important, “we also need roads with proper lighting!!”

Earlier this year, U.S. consulting firm McKinsey said in a report that a mere 15 percent of Lebanon’s roads are in good condition.

In 2018, August proved to be the deadliest month for car accidents with 52 deaths recorded.

The three summer months of June, July and August nearly always see a spike in traffic-related deaths, which is in part attributed to the return of expats, university vacations and, of course, the peak of Lebanon’s party season.

Since her first day at the ministry, Interior Minister Raya El Hassan has promised to be more diligent in enforcing traffic laws and to enact new measures to reduce the number of car crashes and traffic jams.

The Interior Ministry and Public Works and Transportation Ministry could not be reached for comment.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 09, 2019, on page 1.

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