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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?