Saudi Arabia to crack down on joyriders

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RIYADH, Nov 6 (Reuters) Saudi Arabia will impose heavy fines and possible jail sentences to combat the growing incidence of dangerous driving by thrill-seeking motorists, under a bill approved by the cabinet.

Joyriding has become popular in recent years amongst affluent young Saudi men who have few social outlets in this strictly Islamic country. Laws and customs impose gender segregation, ban cinemas and prevent women from driving.

Sixty per cent of the native Saudi population is under 21 and the country has one of the highest automobile accidents rates in the world.

Under the bill, first-time offenders in the world's largest oil exporter would be fined 1,000 riyals (267 dollar) and have their car impounded, the Saudi Press Agency said.

Those who violate the new rules for a third time risk possible confiscation of their vehicles or a fine equal to the vehicle's value if it was rented or stolen.

The bill would also allow courts to impose jail terms against offenders, the agency said.

Local media has reported a number of deaths caused by drivers racing in urban areas and sometimes performing stunts.

REUTERS ARB BD0910

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