EIGHTY per cent of drivers in Bahrain are defying the seat belt law, a top traffic official has revealed.Though it is mandatory that the driver and the front seat passenger wear seat belts, people generally ignore these rules, said General Directorate of Traffic acting director general Lieutenant Colonel Shaikh Abdulrahman bin Sabah Al Khalifa.
"The fine for this offence is only BD5, and it may be increased in future," he told the GDN.
"We do not want to collect money from people in terms of fines, what we want is for people to realise that the law is for their own safety.
"There is a provision to increase the fine in the new Traffic Law, which is under study by the Parliament."
Lt Col Shaikh Abdulrahman said it was a matter of relief that the number of people who died in traffic accidents last year dropped to 84 from 91 in 2007, despite a huge increase in the number of vehicles on the road.
"Of all fatalities 37 were drivers, 20 were passengers and 27 were pedestrians," he added.
"More police patrolling on roads using mobile radars has contributed towards reducing the number of accidents.
"We have also started on-the-spot education by stopping people who violate rules. Some of our vehicles are equipped with cameras and printers, and the offenders are given tickets along with the picture of their actual offence."
Among all traffic contraventions, around 20pc involved drivers failing to use seat belts, said Lt Col Shaikh Abdulrahman.
"Out of all traffic violations, 11.3pc were due to excess speed and 4.17pc were due to crossing red signal," he added.
One traffic accident was reported every seven minutes in the kingdom, Lt Col Shaikh Abdulrahman revealed.
"The death rates were 2.09 deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles, 8.02 deaths per 100,000 population and 1.05 deaths per one million vehicle kilometre travelled," he added.
"About 66pc of injury accidents occurred in the afternoon or evening hours.
"Out of all injury accidents, 5.04pc happened due to drunken driving, seven per cent due to speeding and 9.4pc due to red light crossing."