Official: Qatar to introduce minimum speed limit requirements soon

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Ayaz Ahmad

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s traffic department has been updating the software on cameras at intersections to better catch violators, a senior official has said.

Speaking to the Qatar Tribune, Mohamed Saad Al Kharji, director general of the Traffic Department, said the cameras are being tweaked to detect vehicles that tailgate as well as drivers who turn left from straight-heading lanes.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Muhammad Kamran Qureshi/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Al Kharji added that the country also plans to roll out minimum speed limits “in the near future.”

“If you are driving on a highway at 20km/hr, you would be obstructing traffic flow and a traffic patrol can fine you for that,” he said.

Currently, according to the Ministry of Interior’s list of traffic violations, a motorist can receive a QR300 ticket for driving at “abnormal low speed that may obstruct traffic movement without a good reason.”

But many have questioned the definition of “abnormal low speed,” and posting set minimum limits could help clear up some of the confusion surrounding the issue.

Violations

Slow drivers aside, the vast majority of traffic violations on Qatar’s roads continue to be recorded by cameras, and are for speeding.

Residents often complain that police officers here do not do enough to enforce basic traffic rules. Instead, Qatar appears to favor using technology to keep bad drivers in check.

"Smart" traffic camera surveillance

MOI/Facebook

“Smart” traffic camera surveillance

In April, for example, officials announced project “Talaa,” a new surveillance program that enables officers to remotely ticket motorists who talk on their phones while driving, don’t buckle up and illegally overtake other vehicles.

Notably, however, the number of traffic violations issued in June – the latest data available – fell sharply compared to the same time last year.

According to the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics, more than 125,000 traffic violations were doled out in June 2015, down nearly 24 percent from last June.

At that time, there were 165,000 citations, the second-highest in the 16 months since the government began releasing traffic violation data.

Traffic violation comparison

MDPS

Traffic violation comparison

MDPS figures show that fewer motorists were ticketed in nearly every category of violation, including speeding, running red lights and not following traffic signs.

It is unclear why violations fell so sharply, as the number of traffic accidents and deaths both increased in June 2015 compared to the previous year.

According to the MDPS, there were nearly 44,000 vehicle accidents in June, up sharply from the nearly 29,000 accidents Qatar saw in June 2014.

Meanwhile, there were 22 road deaths, up from the 16 recorded during the same month last year.

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