Saudi Arabia plans drug tests for drivers

Cars drive down a highway in Riyadh Image copyright AFP
Image caption There are, on average, 17 road deaths every day in Saudi Arabia

Drivers in Saudi Arabia could soon be facing a drugs test before they are issued with a driver's licence.

The new test is being considered by the Department of Transport in a bid to reduce the Kingdom's traffic accident rate, which is among the worst in the world, the Saudi Gazette reports. With an average of 17 people dying every day on Saudi Arabian roads, spokesman Tariq Al-Rubaiaan says the department will refuse a licence to anyone who fails the proposed test. People in Saudi already need to pass a drugs test to obtain a work contract or a marriage certificate.

With around half a million traffic accidents in the country annually, costing the economy around 21bn riyals ($5.5bn; £4.3bn), authorities have already tightened procedures for driving licence applications once this year. Previously, only new drivers were asked to take an eye test, but now it is mandatory for renewing your licence as well, Saudi Gazette points out. By raising awareness and introducing tougher measures for drivers, the government hopes to reduce deaths and injuries on the roads by 15%, the Friends of the Red Crescent Committee says.

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