Updated on Jan. 28 with additional statistics and information from QRSSC.
The number of traffic accidents in Qatar has increased more than five-fold over 18 years, according to the results of a recent study led by Qatar University (QU).
Research by the university’s Qatar Road Safety Studies Center (QRSCC) found that the total number of all types of accidents rose on average 14 percent each year between 1996 and 2013, from 44,077 to 290,829.
This is a much faster rate than the rate in which the population has grown, which is 336 percent over the same period.
The country’s the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics (MDPS) puts the current population at 2,235, 431 and while it does not have publicly-available figures for 1996, statistics from the World Bank estimate Qatar’s population was around 512,476.
While the overall number of accidents had jumped, they did not grow at the same rate as the number of vehicles on the country’s roads, which also rose 16 percent annually over the same period.
This would suggest that the figure for accidents per vehicle may have fallen over the past two decades.
Most road deaths at night
The study, “In-depth analysis of vehicle accidents in Qatar,” used statistics from the MDPS. It stated that accidents were most likely to take place in the second and fourth quarters of the year and that the highest number of fatalities happened on Sunday and Monday evenings, between 6pm and 9pm.
Although a possible reason for this pattern has not been given, anecdotally, traffic in Qatar tends to be heavier earlier in the week, with roads becoming less congested as the weekend draws near.
The study also supported the notion that vast majority of those killed on Qatar’s roads are young men. It found 9o percent of all mortalities to be males aged 20 to 30 years old and stated that the most critical accidents were caused by novice drivers, with less than four years’ experience.
This could at least be in part because of Qatar’s demographics. The population here is relatively young, and men outnumber women 3:1, although a significant percentage of male residents are low-income laborers who are unlikely to drive a car in Qatar.
But according to a Northwestern University in Qatar researcher, local youth in particular are dying in road accidents at a disproportionate rate. Assistant Prof. Susan Dun is now studying the reasons for this with grant support from the Qatar National Research Fund.
The QU study was part of a two-year partnership between ExxonMobil and the Center, which is a joint initiative of QU, Ministry of Interior’s Traffic Department and the private sector.
It follows a report published by the center in April last year which found that road accidents cost Qatar $4.8 billion (QR17.6 billion) over from 2007 until 2012.
Annually, that amounts to 2.7 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Each year, the cost appears to climb, from QR2.5 billion in 2007 to QR3.2 billion in 2012 – a 28 percent increase.
Meanwhile, the latest annual figures for road traffic accidents available from the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics (MDPS), which compiles these statistics monthly from the Traffic Department, would suggest that the rate of increase of road accidents is actually higher than QRSSC’s tally.
The Traffic Department figures from 2012, which are the latest available so far, showed an increase of 10 percent from the previous year on the number of accidents resulting in injury – up from 3,780 in 2011 to 4,218 in 2012.
While the majority of traffic accidents in Qatar are relatively minor, there has been a surge in fatal accidents in recent months.
A total of 49 people were killed on the country’s roads in October and November, while April saw the highest figure in the past year, with 29 deaths that month. Figures for December, along with the annual total, have yet to be released.
Overall, traffic accidents are one of the biggest single causes of death in Qatar. A US-based study, published last year, found that Qatar residents are five times more likely to die in a vehicle crash than from a stroke – the highest ratio in the world.
Authorities have been making efforts to tackle the problems of increasing congestion on the roads and rising number of accidents.
In the past year, the Traffic Department has announced a number of enforcement initiatives aimed at cracking down on bad driving habits, such as using the emergency lane to skip queues, cutting in at junctions at the last minute, tailgaiting and using mobile phones while driving.
Just last week, the speed limit on the Expressway was also reduced from 100 kph to 80 kph as a trial to see if it would cut the number of accidents on what is a very busy route.
However, this has been controversial as it was brought in unannounced, and has led to confusion among many drivers.
Honestly, there is nothing done about people texting while driving. I see it more often then not and it doesn’t seem to be decreasing. No wonder the accident rate is so high.
Look at any car driving unsafe, I’ll bet its driven by someone either on the phone or texting.
I think it is incredible how many people use their mobile phones and drive, and even more incredible that the large majority of people who are driving aggressively, weaving, or centimeters from my bumper, combine this by using their mobile.
I genuinely think there is a learned behavior here that people automatically associate driving and using their mobile – like cinema and popcorn.
Sunday and Monday. I thought on Friday at sealine beach area
Probably some technicality – consider a motor vehicle death and not a ‘road death’ or some such thing.
Road accidents cost Qatar $4.8 billion (QR17.6 billion) over from 2007 until 2012.!!!!! HOW?
Unmarked police cars are all well and good to catch single offenders but you need to combine that with highly visible traffic police cars to demonstrate a constant police presence to everybody on the road. Until every motorist in Qatar develops a genuine fear of being caught by the police for their infringements with appropriate fines and bans – especially for using mobiles, this sad toll will continue unabated.
Enforcement! Discussion done. No need for any further comments.
“The Traffic Department figures from 2012, which are the latest available so far, showed an increase of 10 percent from the previous year…”
In other words, Progress over Prosperity!
We have to increase the population in order to accommodate the 2022 World Cup, though! Isn’t it clear that a 10% increase in deaths don’t matter to us everyday sheople?
The speed limit on a main expressway has been reduced from 100kph to 80kph for what reason? If you don’t stop giving licences to drivers that anybody with eyes can see cannot drive nothing will change.
Qatar has some of the worst drivers I have ever seen, in any other country they wouldn’t get a licence in a millon attempts. Reducing speed limits does not take bad drivers off the roads it only makes the countries traffic congestion worse
“The publicly-available information from the study, “In-depth analysis of vehicle accidents in Qatar,” did not define the type of road incidents that were analysed” – I’m confused! How is it in-depth but without definition!? :/
Young men the world over drive recklessly … The difference is that in most countries they get prosecuted and have their licenses taken away. It is incomprehensible why this does not happen in Qatar.
Yeah….. That and in Europe at least… Most young men are driving whiny little 1.3 litre hatchbacks….. Not snorting 5 litre V8’s…. Or worse, snorting 5 litre V8’s the size of a small house…. The phone thing, though, yes… 9 out of 10 times the close shaves I have had have involved a driver texting, or reading his/her phone. What makes me laugh is that they walk around the malls with an earpiece in…. But drive with it held to their ear! Devices that cut off mobile signal in moving vehicles won’t work… Not practicable…. Stopping offenders and prosecuting them on the spot is what is needed…. Spot checks…. On the spot fines…. Confiscation of their device. Eventually the message will get through. A few years ago they had similar issues in the UAE…. They took steps… Hardline, unbiased policing…. Meaning EVERYBODY gets prosecuted, EVERY time….. Now the problems are greatly reduced… Even other drivers tell people off for using their phone or smoking while driving in Dubai.
I had an incident with a young Qatari driver in November. He was behind me on a Thursday night flashing his lights, honking his horn, eventually bumping my car to apparently get me to move over. Car in front of me, cars beside me there was no way. He eventually sideswipe my car but only grazed my bumper and scraped my spare tire cover bumping me from behind. He stopped at the light, rolled down his window, said something nasty and fled the scene. I filed a report immediately at the police station. I subsequently made 6 more trips to the police station to get the report, every time telling me to come next week as they were unable to “locate” him. Finally I think they must have gotten tired of my persistence as they called me one day and said he was there and to come in. Turns out he had several violations and cases against him and also NO INSURANCE. I asked the officer why he still had his license? He told me there are so many out there without insurance, which didn’t answer my question at all. Then they were requiring me to go get 3 estimates to fix the damage. I was respectful but asked how it is this guy has caused so much havoc out there and I have to run around all over the place for his idiocy. Told that was the rules. I told them one day he will kill someone or himself on the road. On the way home the boys brother called and offered to pay the damages and 4 days later they paid me. Total time on the “case” = 2 months. Cooperation from police = barely.
I had a similar thing happen, in most all respects,hit from behind at roundabout,took off but we had license,waited for weeks then finally his uncle came to pay for him.His uncle owned the vehicle he hit us with, was a fine person and made good for the nephew.The uncle earned my immediate respect.
Yeah the same with this kids brother. I know there are decent people here, it just seems the idiots I and others encounter every single day give the lasting impression most of us will carry away from this place. I was most pissed at the police who continued to NOT do their job and even after convincing the boy to come in did nothing, even with his incredibly bad driving record. Too much coddling, not enough tough lessons learned.
The same happened to me 2 years back. but unlike you i got fed up and gave up.
I was about to and the police called me. After 2 months I was pretty sure they were just waiting for me to give up. That’s why I decided not to give up and see where it went. I am stubborn.
As it happens, last night on the way home from work I was tailgated with only about a foot between the two cars by a small sports car thing.It was the type of car that an 18 year old would drive back home when they are compensating. Eventually when I managed to get out of his way I saw the driver. – It was a young policeman – he looked about 15 but had the uniform and cap on. He looked at my car and at my number plate. I am waiting for a fine.
similar thing happened to me, was hit by an egyptian truck driver on the round about. the guy fled, i called the police, had to make several trips, i even gave them the guys plate number. they dont locate because they dont look, they just wait for the guy to show up when renewing something or gets stopped during thiboot
“local youth in particular are dying in road accidents at a disproportionate rate. Assistant Prof. Susan Dun is now studying the reasons for this with grant support from the Qatar National Research Fund” ……….they drive too fast and dont wear seatbelts ……. research done
Having driven here for the last 7 years and for 45 mins morn and eve to work, I suffer numerous near misses most weeks from people driving too fast and too close, overtaking when it is not safe to do so and from people being on their phones and not paying attention to the road. I can always tell if a person is on the phone in front of me by how they are weaving in their lane. Tailgating and flashing, although it has somewhat decreased since the new law, is also a daily occurrence for me. What is also with the driver’s who are on a roundabout in the inside lane suddenly leaving the inside lane for a right exit, driving into vehicles in the two lanes by its side, causing them to have to either break suddenly or hit him/her?. Is this allowed in Doha? Unless traffic is slowing, If your driving is causing others to have to break then you are a bad driver.
Here in Qatar, the one on the inside lane in a roundabout has the right of way when exiting (whereas the inner line is if your intentional exit would be left or a u-turn fom where you started, especially in a 3 lane RA). This is what police told me, after I had a small accident when I started driving here in Qatar. I’m used to the opposite and was surprised myself. In my Homecountry (Germany) always the one on the right has the right of way.