Browsing 'car accidents' News

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Muhammad Kamran Qureshi/Flickr

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Fewer people are dying on Qatar’s roads, even as thousands of new residents to the country climb behind the wheel each month, recently released government figures show.

While the lower death rate is welcome news, the raft of safety measures rolled out by authorities in recent years has failed to stem the rising number of serious injuries suffered in traffic accidents.

A monthly bulletin released by the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS) says 23 people died in vehicle collisions in December 2014, bringing the total for the year to 222.

A separate MDPS document said there were 246 deaths in road accidents in 2013.

The decline in the number of deaths is even more significant when Qatar’s rising population is taken into account.

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Hani Arif/Flickr

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Using year-end population figures, that works out to approximately 9.93 road deaths per 100,000 residents in 2014, compared to 12.2 per 100,000 residents the previous year.

This means that Qatar is on track towards meeting its National Development Strategy goal of reducing traffic fatalities to 10 deaths per 100,000 residents by 2016.

However, the latest numbers also suggest that the country has yet to make significant progress towards meeting its ambitious targets set out in its National Road Safety Strategy.

While it welcomes lower road death rates, the strategy’s authors want to reduce the absolute number of fatalities to 130 by 2022.

The document also wants to cut the number of serious injuries by half, to 300 cases. But rather than decreasing, incidents of major injuries are actually on the rise.

There were 671 cases of major injuries resulted from traffic accidents last year, up from 642 in 2013.

Accounting for the Qatar’s growing population shows an improvement.

There were 30.02 cases of serious injuries per 100,000 residents in 2014, down slightly from 31.84 per 100,000 the previous year.

Building safer roads

Accident

Omar Chatriwala

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Recently published research by Qatar University shows that the number of accidents has outpaced population growth over the past 18 years.

The same report found that the vast majority of those killed on Qatar’s roads are young men between the ages of 20 and 30 years old with less than four years’ experience.

Separate research found that most serious collisions in Qatar occur on high-speed rural roads, which lack safety features to help prevent vehicles from running off the road or median separators to avoid head-on collisions, according to the country’s National Road Safety Strategy.

The report argues that streets should be designed so that drivers can anticipate the road ahead, which would help reduce the number of crashes. Roads should also be “forgiving,” so that when collisions do occur, they are less likely to result in serious or fatal injuries.

Examples include better-designed crash barriers, crosswalks and layout – such as banning on-street parking on high-speed roads.

The country’s public works authority, Ashghal, appears to be moving in this direction and has budgeted some QR600 million for a series of street safety improvement programs.

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Lubaib Gazir

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However, local residents have said that they want to see a greater police presence and more stringent application of traffic laws to bring down the number of accidents on the country’s roads.

The government appears to have taken steps to boost enforcement efforts through the creation of a dedicated highway patrol unit and installing radar cameras to catch speeders.

Here’s a copy of the full report:

Qatar Monthly Statistics Bulletin – December 2014

Thoughts?

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HMC/Facebook

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With reporting from Riham Sheble

At least four people have been killed and 15 others injured in a spate of car accidents this week, spurring calls from residents for improved road safety in Qatar.

One crash took place during the early hours of Saturday morning, killing two residents and injuring four. And at least three car accidents occurred on Sunday alone, killing two people and injuring 11.

Road accidents are a leading cause of death in Qatar. Despite efforts from authorities to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries from such crashes, many residents say bad driving continues to be a big problem on the nation’s roads.

Two Filipinos killed

Around 1:30am Saturday morning, six Filipina expats were involved in a car accident on their way home, and two of them died, the Philippines embassy told Doha News. 

It is unclear why their vehicle crashed, but the women, ages 33 and 35 years old, were killed at the scene and the driver, along with the remaining four passengers, was wounded.

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Jude Freeman/Flickr

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The women were on their way home after finishing their late-night shifts as caterers at a wedding function in Al Kharityat. Their staff accommodation was located along Shamal Road, near the location of the function.

The driver and the passengers were rushed to Hamad Hospital’s Emergency Department to receive urgent treatment, with one Filipino sustaining serious head injuries. She is currently under care at Hamad’s Intensive Care Unit.

Two of the passengers have several fractures and are also under treatment, and one was recently discharged to recuperate at home.

The driver is also said to be injured and under Hamad’s care. His injuries are not too severe, according to an embassy representative.

A full report is yet to be released, but the embassy said that there appears to be no other car involved. The driver, who is from Egypt, will be questioned upon his recovery.

‘Too many innocent people’

Ben Chris Rivera, Joyce Rivera and their one-year-old son, Arclian Zirc III

Supplied

Ben Chris Rivera, Joyce Rivera and their one-year-old son, Arclian Zirc III

The deadly accident comes weeks after five Filipinos were killed in a car accident after being struck by a young local driver who had no driver’s license or car insurance, and whose vehicle had racked up 44 traffic violations over a period of 13 months.

The driver was reported by the traffic department to be speeding when he hit the family’s parked car, causing it to erupt in flames and burn the passengers inside.

The tragedy caused a heated debate among residents on social media about Qatar’s perilous roads and a lack of authoritative monitoring.

Reflecting on the two critical accidents, a Philippines embassy representative recently sent out a reminder to its nationals, telling Doha News:

“Please, please be extra cautious — as a driver, passenger and even a pedestrian. The number of vehicle related accidents are only rising and too many people are losing their lives. It’s saddening. Too many innocent people are being killed on the road.”

Sunday’s accidents

Separately, at least three car accidents took place on Sunday, taking the lives of two and injuring as many as 11 people, according to an Al Raya report.

According to the newspaper, in one of the accidents, the driver of a Land Cruiser swerved out of control along Salwa Road, causing the car to crash into a workshop located on the busy strip of shops at the side of the road.

Both the driver and one of the workshop’s mechanics were killed, and one mechanic was injured in the accident, which took place around 6:30am.

Al Raya did not mention the nationalities of those involved, but a Pakistan embassy representative told Doha News that the mechanic killed was from Pakistan.

The embassy confirmed that the 36 year-old mechanic suffered “multi-trauma injuries” and paperwork is now being done to ensure his body is repatriated.

Some of Salwa Road's shops

Richard Molpus/Flickr

Photo of Salwa Road shops for illustrative purposes only.

The second accident also involved a motorist who lost control of his Land Cruiser. While no one was killed at the scene of the crash at a construction site off of D-Ring Road, six people were severely injured, including the driver himself, Al Raya reports.

The newspaper stated that for unknown reasons, the driver suddenly swerved off the road and drove into an excavation next to the Kahramaa building, where several construction workers were working on site.

Five construction workers and the driver suffered extensive injuries. One of those involved was a Qatari citizen, according to Al Raya.

Sunday’s third car accident involved the collision of two cars in Al Mamourah at 8:30pm. Four residents were involved in the accident and all of them were injured.

Speaking to Doha News, a Palestinian embassy representative confirmed that three of the residents involved were Palestinian nationals.

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Those involved in Sunday’s three car accidents were all rushed to Hamad Hospital’s Emergency Department as police attended to the scene, according to Al Raya’s report.

National efforts

Amid ongoing discussion about Qatar’s road woes, one of the country’s top traffic police officers said this week that distracted driving is one of the top reasons for traffic accidents here.

Speaking to Doha News, Brig. Mohammed Saad Al-Kharji, the director-general of Qatar’s traffic department, said:

“(In the case of) more than 80 percent of the accidents, they are using their mobile.”

To tackle that problem, several Qatar-based firms have launched apps that lock a motorist’s phone while a vehicle is in motion.

In another attempt to curb road accidents, a number of new officers are expected to complete their training in the coming weeks and begin patrolling Qatar’s roads and highways, as well as be stationed on foot at certain intersections, Al-Kharji added.

And finally, additional road surveillance cameras have also been strategically placed in recent times and new, advanced road radars are currently being installed across the country.

Thoughts?

carseat

Chris Weigand

The health of Qatar’s children has been in the spotlight this week, on the heels of an international pediatric conference being held here. In a three-part series, Doha News examines some of the most pressing challenges facing kids in Qatar. Here, we look at a new initiative that aims to reduce children’s injuries in road accidents.

More than half – some 54 percent – of deaths among children up to four years old in Qatar are caused by traffic accidents, but with the proper use of child carseats, many of these deaths are entirely preventable, senior Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) doctors have told Doha News.

To encourage parents to actually use these seats, Kulluna (“all of us”) – HMC’s safety initiative, in conjunction with Safe Kids worldwide – is training volunteers to become child carseat technicians and instructors.

During one of these new sessions at Hamad’s International Training Center this morning, Dr. Khalid Abdulnoor Saifeldeen, Senior Consultant in Emergency Medicine and Chairman of the Kulluna safety campaign, told Doha News that the aim is to build up a team of 100 technicians who will educate Qatar’s residents – both expats and nationals – about the importance of securing their children safely in cars.

“Qatar is a virgin country as far as car seats are concerned, so it’s very important education comes before anything” he told us. “We’re happy to run this course every month if necessary. Education comes first. Even before enforcement.”

Saifeldeen said he believes that the most efficient method of education is to reach out to expectant parents before they have their baby, by giving them a car seat, and showing them – and any drivers or nannies they might have – how to use it safely.

While he expressed support for a recent government initiative to give out free car seats to new parents at Hamad Women’s Hospital, he added that the program lacked an educational component.

His niece, for example, was given a free car seat, but didn’t know how to use it, the doctor said.

“Her husband drove and she just sat in the car holding the seat – she didn’t put the seat belt through it. She’s still using it, but she’s not confident, so she’s coming at the end of the course this week to get some advice.”

Severe injuries

When unrestrained children get in car accidents, the consequences in Qatar are often severe, Saifeldeen said:

“Fatalities are all from severe brain injuries in this age group, but we also see severe internal injuries, abdominal and chest, and fractures, spinal injuries.

Children can become a floating object in a car – we often use the word missile. It’s not only the impact of the crash itself, but the impact of that missile – the child – on the child’s body, particularly the brain. Those injuries can be, even for those that survive, devastating, not just for the child, but also the families.”

HMC Paramedic Mark Roxburgh is currently training to be an instructor for the Kulluna child car seat course. Speaking to Doha News, he described a typical accident scene involving an unrestrained child.

“We often see a little child who seems from the outside to be fine. But as child’s head is very heavy, as the collision happens, the child will move like a projectile – usually head first. And as the head hits the windshield or another occupant, the head will twist and hyper extend backwards massively, and all of the organs in the neck will be destroyed – the arteries, the veins, the spinal cord.

The child might look fine from the outside, but there’s absolutely nothing we can do. We will still try, we will do our utmost – but it’s often too late. But if they’re in a child restraint, there’s far more hope. In fact, often the child might be crying, but they’ll be fine. They’ll go into hospital for checks, and be discharged later that day.”

Carseat HMC

Victoria Scott

According to Saifeldeen, at present there is no detailed data about car accident-related deaths available in Qatar, but HMC is “working hard” to improve the system so that a detailed breakdown of types of injuries, ages of those injured and causes of accidents can be compiled.

New law

Currently, it is not illegal for children in Qatar not be restrained in car seats. The only law on the books is one that prohibits kids under 10 from sitting in the front seat.

Saifeldeen said that a new car safety law is being discussed, but argued that enforcement of existing legislation is paramount:

“At the end of the day, the police must enforce this – this doesn’t need a great deal of education. Putting them in the back seat is just a starting point, a beginning of acceptance that what they’re doing is wrong.  We also want to stop people letting their children hang out of windows. Just one pothole, and they could fall out. These things should be just basic parental instinct.”

In water cooler conversations, the issue of carseat education typically focuses on Qatari families, but the doctor added that some expats who come from countries that strictly enforce car safety laws tend to relax their attitudes here.

“I very much hope the trend we’ve noticed doesn’t get bigger,” he said. “That could be quite damaging. We like to see them as role models. This may be the first group we have to target, so they stick to their principles.”

Cultural difficulties

Saifeldeen has a personal reason for wanting to further child seat safety awareness in Qatar. He recalled a serious accident he had in the UK some years ago, which he and his family were lucky to survive:

“I was on the motorway, and I rolled the car five times, going 40 meters off the road and into a field, ending up upside down. I had two kids in the back – a two-year-old and a five-year-old. I’m convinced that if they hadn’t been in car seats, the children would have died. Other than a skull fracture to the five-year-old, they were fine. We’ve been using car seats ever since.”

He added, however, that he’s the only member of his Qatari family to buckle his children into carseats. The reasons for not doing so vary, including the fact that carseats take up too much space, or that it takes too long to strap kids in. But he added that the excuses are not legitimate.

“Affordability is definitely not an issue – there are cheap good quality car seats on sale here for 200-300QR. It’s about acceptance and behavior.”

Thoughts?