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The Road to Safety: Egypt Overhauls Highway System

September 7, 2015

By Nourhan Magdi, The Cairo Post

A major road project is underway in Egypt, with 3,400km of roads planned to be completed by the end of 2015.

Some 600 km of the first phase of the National Road Project planned by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has been completed , the head of the General Authority for Roads and Bridges, Adel Tork, told The Cairo Post.

“Safety norms are included in the construction of new roads and the maintenance of old ones,” Tork said.

The project, announced by Sisi last year, includes building new roads as well as road duplication, aiming to link between developing areas in the country.

The first phase will construct 3,400km of roads, of which 1,250 km will be constructed by the General Authority for Roads and Bridges.

How can we build safe, efficient roads in Egypt?

“First, we should understand what international road design is,” Yousri el-Rouby, the international expert in traffic, rescue and rapid intervention in accidents in the Middle East told The Cairo Post.

The traditional design which exists in Egypt “lacks several safety essentials,” Rouby said, adding “We find highways highly illuminated at nighttime with tall light columns, which is not allowed; such huge amount of light might distract the driver’s eye.”

He added that instead light reflectors should be used; this is one of the main safety guides on highways.

“Highways in Egypt also lack different essentials including emergency areas and parks, mechanical repair stops, good quality crash barriers and international traffic signs and signals.”

Rouby then noted the second type of the road design is one that is designed to accommodate drivers’ errors; he added that this type is widely applied abroad.

Crashes are Egypt’s leading cause of death


Around 62.9 percent of Egypt’s injury-related deaths are due to traffic crashes, according to a survey by Egypt and WHO. In 2009, Egypt ranked among countries with highest mortality rates in the Global Status report on road safetyin 178 countries.

In 2012, WHO’s report said that around 12,000 Egyptians lose their lives due to road traffic accidents.

Egypt is one of ten countries included in the Road Safety Project 2011-2020, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO,) which aims to reduce the level of road traffic fatalities around the world by 50 percent.

The number of road accidents in Egypt in 2014 was reported to have declined by 7.5 percent less than in 2013; a report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) recorded 14, 403 road accidents in 2014.

Road accidents’ fatalities’ toll in 2014 also indicated a slight decline reaching 6,226 compared with 6,700 in 2013.

Start with the drivers

“The traffic system consists of humans, vehicles and roads; if we started with developing roads and vehicles first, road crashes toll will maintain high. The solution is to start with humans,” Rouby added.

He said that giving driving licenses to people without going to driving school is not only a violation to Geneva agreements in this regard, but also “it is like giving the driver a lethal weapon.”

“I have been the director of Highways in Egypt for a long time, and when I tried to take a driving exam abroad I failed,” said Rouby.

He also explained that traffic education is very important; “there are non-verbal signals used for different purposes between drivers that I bet drivers in Egypt have no idea about.”

Comments (12)

  1. Carole Talaway says:

    Egyptians have an inherent dislike of rules. The lane lines on the highway are strictly for tourists or those too scared to go around others. Signaling is almost totally unheard of. Same goes for using headlights. Until there is a national education system and traffic police control the problem of bad drivers and failure to follow international standards of rules of the road will not change.

    1. Alnitek Altair says:

      Egyptians need to learn to ride a bicycle first before getting on a car!

    2. Waleed A. Nasser says:

      I believe this is the problem, they treat the car like a bicycle… they don’t understand that driving a car is totally different from driving a bicycle or a donkey.

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  2. Karl Richter says:

    well to avoid accidents , there is also a need for disciplinary attitude.. there are many bad roads……… but on good road you seen hundreds of violations every day.
    no one wait by a full line they cross the full lines for
    example on solna road to Hurghada. new road ar build and perfect.

    neglecting all warnings……. a full line means you have to wait and not pas the car in front of you….. but in Egypt the do it every time…… they also demand the opposite car to drive outer right to avoid accidents,
    buses or trucks make dangerous moves…. there a lot of people get killed trucks or buses on this road. passing a car on a full line… another fact is driving a 2 lane road in the wrong direction…. to safe little time.
    even perfect roads and no discipline on a road
    will kill every year a lot of people.
    when i ask why they do this… i get the answer …. it’s Egypt

    if you want prove this violations
    you need not much time to make a video clip from a violation. you see them daily by hundreds… even the jeeps driven by young policeman . easy to make a clip…… any police car should give the example for good driving…. Egyptian in a car means… king on the road and for sure he is the best driver in the world… gentleman on the road? in Egypt? rare species