New Saudi Arabian Saher speed cameras that can also detect tailgaters and excessive lane changing will directly bill a motorist’s bank account when they detect a traffic offence.
Saher’s new generation of traffic cameras are being installed throughout Saudi Arabia where 1500 traffic accidents and up to 17 fatalities occur every day.
When the cameras detect an offence the motorist receives a text message and the fine amount is automatically withdrawn from their bank account.
Such Draconian measures where a motorist is not even given the chance to defend themselves could be expected in a country where homosexuals are stoned to death. (It will be interesting to see if any riders or teams boycott next year’s Dakar Rally which is being stage in the country.)
However, the extensive capabilities of the cameras will surely be under scrutiny by police and governments in other countries.
Saher means “one who remains awake” in Arabic.
These new cameras are high-resolution and act not only as a traffic infringement unit, but also as a 24-hour CCTV unit monitoring nearby streets for police.
They rotate 360° to capture images in all directions.
Their features include capturing instant and average speeds, number plate recognition, red light violations, excessive lane changing, vehicles in the wrong lane, mobile phone use, seat belts and even tailgating.
It’s interesting that excessive lane changing and tailgating are specific offences while in most countries they are a police interpretation as dangerous driving.
In Saudi Arabia, it is an offence for car drivers to travel fewer than three seconds behind a vehicle, four seconds for SUV drivers and five seconds for trucks.
There aren’t many Saudi laws that we would want to follow, but perhaps these may be worth considering.
For anyone travelling to the Mid East for work, a holiday or to watch next year’s Dakar, an Aussie expat has some words of caution.
He says any traffic fines incurred by foreigners are attached to their visa and they will not be allowed to leave the country without paying.
That is also the case in many other countries. However, the Saudis can get nasty about unpaid fines.
“If you get lots of fines or drive very fast the authorities will take your car,” the expat says.
“If you have many many unpaid fines the authorities get very nasty and they’ll get your power or water disconnected until the fines are paid.”
Fines are not excessive, though.
Speeding up to 20km/h over the limit costs 300 Saudi Riyals (about $A110) and tailgating attracts an SR150-300 fine (about $A55-$110).
However, if you “gathering for joy at riding areas” it will cost SR1000-2000 (about $A375-$750).