Browsing 'traffic safety' News

Accident in Sailiya

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Fewer people were killed in road accidents in Qatar during the first half of this year, compared to the same time last year.

But more people were also injured in the incidents, according to the latest government figures.

That said, the number of accidents on the roads did fall 6 percent from January to June this year, to 136,574.

The improvement comes as authorities make a bigger push to boost safety on the roads, amid widespread concern about irresponsible driving.

Injuries

This week, the MOI said the vast majority of accidents (97.6 percent) during the first half of the year did not result in any injuries.

However, the total number of injuries did rise 7.2 percent, from 4,296 in 2015 to 4,606 this year.

Breaking it down by minor and major injuries, some 4,078 minor accidents resulting in injuries were recorded for the first half of this year.

That’s a 7.6 percent rise from the previous year.

Meanwhile the number of major accidents with injuries rose by 13.5 percent, to 429 this year (up from 378 in 2015), the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

Mortality rate lower

Despite this, the number of fatal accidents on the roads showed a drop of 22.7 percent in the first half of this year. Some 99 people died, compared to 128 deaths from traffic accidents from January to June 2015.

Meanwhile, the number of pedestrians who died on the roads has also fallen by a third – from 39 people in the first half of last year, to 26 for 2016.

These figures have helped to bring down the mortality rate on the country’s roads to 6.3 per 100,000 people. This is significant compared to the figure of 12.2/100,000 residents in 2013.

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While a welcome trend, authorities still have work to do to cut deaths to 130 fatalities and injuries to 300 by 2022, as outlined in the National Road Safety Strategy.

Safer roads

Improving safety on Qatar’s roads has been the focus of a number of initiatives in recent years.

At the end of 2015, an updated traffic law imposed tougher penalties for overtaking on the right and parking in spaces reserved for those with special needs.

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And this February, cameras were installed at key intersections to record and penalize drivers who cut into lanes at the last minute, perform illegal maneuvers and stop in the middle of junctions, blocking traffic.

Meanwhile, an MOI official previously said that plans were underway to upgrade traffic cameras to detect vehicles that tailgate and drivers who turn left from straight-heading lanes.

In addition to the cameras, traffic police often patrol busy intersections and will pull over and impound vehicles caught using the emergency lane or overtaking on the right-turn lane.

Cracking down on phones

The use of mobile phones while driving continues to be a leading cause of traffic accidents in Qatar.

Last month, the MOI warned that it was stepping up its patrols and officers would issue on-the-spot fines for drivers found texting, calling or using social media while behind the wheel.

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Earlier this year, Qatar Insurance Company teamed up with polling agency YouGov to assess residents’ views on road safety in the country.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they felt the country’s infrastructure had improved in the previous six months.

But some 86 percent also said they had seen more distracted drivers who are texting or talking on the phone while behind the wheel.

This followed previous public awareness campaigns, such as a video released last year, that showed the potentially tragic consequences of distracted driving.

Do you think the roads here are safer? Thoughts?

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In a new push to curb phone usage while driving, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) has deployed traffic police around Qatar to write up and fine violators “on the spot.”

The drive is a sign that the government has moved beyond awareness campaigns and is now taking more punitive action to enforce road safety.

On Twitter this week, the MOI warned residents to concentrate on the road or face consequences:

Speaking to the Peninsula, an official at the Media & Traffic Awareness Department said that police have been sent across Doha, Dukhan, Al Shamal and other areas this week to catch people on their phones.

The campaign will continue throughout the summer “because there is no major traffic jam and it is easy to stop any violator and register offenses,” Maj. Jaber Mohamed Rashid Odaiba said.

Drivers and those not wearing seatbelts in the front will also be fined QR500, he added.

Pokémon Go

Using a phone while driving is illegal in Qatar, and can result in a QR500 ticket.

But enforcement of the law has always been uneven, even though it has long been the main reason people get into accidents here.

Pokémon GO

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Pokémon GO

These days, according to officials, motorists are no longer texting or talking so much, but instead taking selfies and using social media apps.

In November, an officer said those who take photos of themselves and use Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp while driving were responsible for 80 percent of major accidents in Qatar.

And according to Odaiba, the new Pokémon Go app is also now contributing to the problem.

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Chantelle D'Mello / Doha News

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While the officer said Qatar often holds enforcement campaigns in the summer, this latest one comes after the MOI found 94 percent of people surveyed online were worried about mobile usage while driving.

Meanwhile, in another attempt to punish bad drivers, the government’s central bank recently instructed insurance companies to raise premiums for those who have been in accidents or incurred traffic violations.

Thoughts?

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Shabina S. Khatri / Doha News

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Four Qatar residents have died and one man is in critical condition in the hospital after the driver of their minibus lost control of the vehicle and it rolled over several times on the Doha Expressway earlier this week.

The incident happened around 11am on Tuesday, officials at the Bangladesh embassy have said.

The vehicle was carrying eight Bangladeshi passengers from their accommodation near the Wholesale Market to Dukhan Road, First Secretary Mohammad Rabiul Islam told Doha News.

Mohammed Moin Uddin, who was working as a blacksmith, and Mohamed Islamuddin, who was working as a plaster technician and mason, both died on the scene.

Mechanic Muhammed Muhibur and Mohamed Awlad Hussen, who was employed as a laborer, died at the hospital.

They were in their 20s and 30s.

Survivors

Three other passengers have since been released. One passenger, as well as the Egyptian driver, remain in the hospital.

Islam said the exact cause of the collision was not clear. However, he said no other vehicles were involved and that the bus did not appear to hit anything before it rolled over three or four times.

He said one of the surviving passengers told embassy officials that he believed the minibus was speeding at the time.

All of the victims hail from Kanaighat, a subdistrict of Sylhet in northeastern Bangladesh.

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Islam said he accompanied Bangladesh’s ambassador in Qatar to the hospital to speak with the survivors.

He added that the embassy is helping to coordinate between hospital officials, the police and the family members of the victims to repatriate their bodies.

Once the police investigation is complete, the embassy will also be pursuing compensation – as well as the final wages and payments from the men’s employer – for the families, Islam said.

He added that the incident shows how quickly careless driving can lead to a tragedy:

“Within a minimum period of time, four people have died and four families have been damaged. Drivers should be careful while (behind the wheel),” he told Doha News.

There are approximately 300,000 Bangladeshi citizens living in Qatar, Islam said.

Thoughts?