Qatar’s public works authority has started to rank the country’s roads according to how safe they are.
Roads at high risk of accidents – such as Diplomatic St. – have been identified using a star ratings system. This also shows how safety could be improved via a design overhaul.
Speaking during this week’s transport forum, Ashghal officials said there are many ways to reduce the number of accidents on particularly troubling roads.
These include adding rumble strips, medians and crash barriers, as well as reducing speed limits. According to Michael De Roos, road safety specialist from Ashghal:
“We see a lot of sharp left and right turns in Qatar, and people end up driving in a straight line anyway. It’s an engineering problem.
If people crash on a specific curve on a road, then we know there has to be more work done to improve that road.”
The project comes amid an ongoing drive to reduce the number of deaths on Qatar’s roads as part of the National Road Safety Strategy.
Last year, some 7.5 out of 100,000 people died in traffic accidents, down significantly from 14 out of 100,000 people six years ago.
That’s according to Brig. Mohammed Al Malki, secretary of the Ministry of Interior’s (MOI) national committee for traffic safety, Gulf Times reports.
However, there is still some way to go to meet an overall target of less than 130 annual road deaths by 2020. Last year, that number stood at 227 people.
Building new, safer roads and upgrading existing routes to add safety features is seen as one way of getting closer to those goals.
How roads fare
As part of its plan, Ashghal has been collaborating with the International Road Assessment Program (iRAP) to map out road safety levels and areas of improvement.
The recently-constructed new road to Hamad International Airport (HIA) scored a five-star safety rating, thanks to its design.
It has wide lanes and wide shoulders, protection from head-on collisions and speed limits of 60kph, Fabian Marsh, road safety engineering advisor at Ashghal said on the second day of the Qatar Transport Safety Forum.
However, other older roads fared less well.
For example, B-Ring Road has a rating of just two stars due to its higher speed limit of 80kph.
It also has light poles that are close to the roadside, which could be deadly in a high-speed crash.
Meanwhile, Diplomatic St. in Dafna/West Bay scored just one star.
Its danger level is higher because of its curved shape and lots of intersections with adjoining streets. It also has trees and street light poles close to the road edge.
Although remodeling roads can help improve safety, cutting speed limits is also important, Marsh said.
“A one-or two-star road could be made three-star simply by reducing speeds,” he added.
The ratings are used by Ashghal and other authorities as an internal measurement and are not publicly available.
Measures in place
During the two-day transport forum, some 30 sessions were held to discuss ways of boosting safety safety. Ideas included encouraging more pedestrians to use existing crossings and better managing traffic flow.
However, experts and officials steered clear of a key issue in the country, namely enforcing speed limits. Many focused on education and awareness instead.
Meanwhile, some new safety measures are already helping to reduce the number of fatal accidents on the country’s roads.
For example, roadside barriers are being fitted on Al Shamal Road, Al Huwailah Link Road, Al Khor Link Road, and the Umm Bikrah Link Road, one German company told Gulf Times.
And some efforts have been made to tackle fast and bad driving on the busiest roads, with the installation of new radars on the Doha Expressway and 60 main intersections around town.