The majority of motorists in Qatar feel their daily commute is getting longer and more dangerous, even as the country’s road infrastructure improves, a new survey has found.
In its first survey of the local market, Qatar Insurance Co. (QIC) and market research firm YouGov polled residents last month to gauge their perceptions on driving in Qatar. The sample size was small – 127 residents – but “representative.”
The good news is that motorists believe the quality of the country’s streets and highways are getting better, with 61 percent saying Qatar’s road infrastructure has improved over the last six months.
But there’s also a lot of bad news.
Slightly more than three-quarters of those surveyed said it’s taking longer for them to get to work.
And, to the alarm of surveyors, 86 percent of respondents said that in the last six months, they’ve been seeing more distracted drivers who are texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel.
“It’s scary,” Frederik Bisbjerg, QIC executive vice-president, told Doha News. “People looking down at their phone is one of the major causes of accidents.”
Bisbjerg said he hopes that by publicizing the findings, drivers will think twice before reaching for their phone when they receive a text message or notification.
Previous public awareness campaigns, such as a video released last year that shows the potentially tragic consequences of distracted driving, have also encouraged motorists to stop using their phone while driving.
Other findings from the QIC / YouGov survey included:
- 62 percent of those polled said traffic in Qatar has become more dangerous;
- 77 percent said they see more vehicles speeding; and
- 77 percent said more vehicles are changing lanes abruptly and without indicating.
Bisbjerg said he personally believes there may be a connection between Qatar’s improving road infrastructure and the driving habits of motorists.
Smooth and wide roads that are free of potholes enable people to drive faster, he said.
“Because we don’t do enough to educate drivers to cope with this, the accidents are more severe,” he said. “That’s an advantage of living in a country with bad roads – people go slow and accidents are not serious.”
Bisbjerg said the situation is similar in other Gulf countries, particularly the UAE.
In Dubai, motorists now face the risk of additional financial penalties for dangerous driving.
Late last month, authorities in the emirate started to charge ambulance fees to the insurance provider of drivers who cause a collision. Insurance firms told The National that premiums would likely rise as a result.
A spokesperson for Hamad Medical Corp. told Doha News this week that ambulance patients in Qatar are not charged fees and that there are no plans to introduce new charges.
However, QIC is considering other ways of offering motorists financial incentives to drive safely. It’s currently experimenting with an iPhone app, named How’s My Driving that tracks behavior such as rapid acceleration, harsh braking and speeding.
Bisbjerg said the eventual goal is to offer discounts to customers who use to app to demonstrate that they are driving safely.
“We want people to pay based on how they drive,” he said.
Bisbjerg said he hopes the driving survey will be repeated in six months.