Egypt’s road accident rate is undeniably awful. Its dismal statistics since last October has included a Boxing day coach crash on the Abu Simbel road into a parked truck carrying sand killed and injured American tourists. On 20th November, eight foreign tourists were killed when their tour bus lost control on a winding mountain road near Hurghada on the Red Sea, while in October six Belgian tourists were killed in a crash in the south, and on 10th October, two other tourists were killed when their van overturned.
And this is just the foreign tourist accident reports.
About 8,000 people annually are killed in traffic accidents in Egypt according to a WHO survey. An AUC student survey (see blog http://www.huffingtonpost.com/firas-alatraqchi/egypts-deadly-roads_b_801383.html) found that 30% of truck and trailer drivers tested positive for drug use, and pedestrians account for 70% of all fatalities.
According to the Transport Ministry less than 1% of drivers stop for pedestrians. My experience on the roads accords with this statistic: in my five months in Egypt I have seen three pedestrians run over.
Night-time driving is even more hazardous and includes boy racers weaving, speeding trucks overtaking/undertaking and vehicles without lights – this last being peculiar to Egypt I suspect.
So does Egypt have the most dangerous roads in the world?
Certainly it is up there with China, Syria and South Africa, but according to the WHO 2010 Global Status Report on Road Safety, the dubious accolade goes to India with over 135,000 deaths annually.
It’s not very reassuring though, when trying to cross roads, to know that conditions could be worse! Maybe the 2011 police resolution, according to the Ministry of Transport, to tighten penalties and increase fines will make a difference. Forcing drivers who offend to undertake a driving course and pass a test before going back on the road could radically improve things.
I’m not very optimistic though.