Though it should go without saying, it’s safer to use a turn signal when driving than to change lanes without giving other motorists a heads up.
That said, Qatar residents have been given two widely shared public reminders this week about the importance of the practice.
The first video was published by the Ministry of Interior on its Facebook page on Monday. It urged those on the roads to make “proper use of indicators” to “ensure safe and risk free driving.”
The 37-second-clip shows an orange car unsuccessfully attempting to switch lanes without using a turn signal. When the driver does opt to use the indicator, a fellow motorist falls back and allows him to enter the other lane.
However, in a recent self-proclaimed rant, Khalifa Saleh Al Haroon, co-founder of I Love Qatar, theorized that people don’t use their indicators precisely because it gives others advance notice of their intentions.
“Have you ever signaled from the right – and there’s a car to your right-hand side? The guy accelerates as fast as (he) can – he just floors it, right?”
Al Haroon added that perhaps that’s why some choose to change lanes in “stealth mode – before you give the guy warning to accelerate.”
Another reason for poor signal habits among drivers in Qatar, he said, was lack of enforcement.
“You can have all of the laws and the rules and the penalties in the world. But if you don’t actually have people enforcing the basics, then people are just always going to drive like schmucks.”
Instead of just talking about increasing fines, actually hand them out, he added.
Qatar residents have previously called for greater enforcement of traffic laws to combat aggressive driving.
However, one local driving instructor has suggested that solving the problem may be more complicated than simply stationing police officers at every intersection.
Roger Taylor, a defensive driving specialist in Ras Laffan, recently wrote an open op-ed that argued cultural changes are also needed to improve the safety of Qatar’s roads.
“Bad behavior stems from an attitude of selfishness, a total disregard for the law and the safety of others. However, that assumes that the person committing the offenses knows how to drive correctly, knows the rules, has the right attitude, and understands the importance of road safety.
If training, testing and enforcement are presented at a level where people do not understand how to apply the correct driving strategies, then they will make up their own or follow other people’s examples, which if we think about it, is exactly what is happening here in Qatar.”
However, Taylor added that “visible, physical and active deterrents” – such as police officers stopping speeding motorists and tailgaters, rather than relying on speed cameras – could also help change the behavior of motorists.