Saying steep traffic fines have “achieved their objectives” in reducing accidents, Qatar has announced plans to cut fines and points incurred for some offenses, but raise them for others.
The current law, which was issued in October of 2007, imposed steep fines for those caught speeding and in particular running a red light. Those may be reduced while the penalty for overtaking cars from the right side of the road will increase.
Traffic Department Brig. Mohamed Saad al-Kharji told Al Raya that the amendments are also being made in response to comments the traffic department has received from residents and on social media.
In the past, people who read in their cars posed a safety danger; now, drivers texting on their mobile phones are a major threat, he said.
“It is unfortunate drivers do not understand the risk they are running by such diversion of attention. A major accident could happen in a split second,” he told Al Raya.
Road fatalities decline
Despite the increase in population and number of new vehicles on the road (some 100,000 a year over the past five years), road fatalities dropped from 260 in 2007 to 205 last year.
That is not to bad driving problems don’t persist; Hamad Hospital regularly reports seeing patients suffering from severe traffic-related injuries.
And more than a dozen pedestrian- and road-related accidents have resulted in fatalities in the last few months.
Al Kharji had little to say when asked why, if the law had resulted in such a decline in fatalities, it was being changed. And whether drivers would take rules less seriously if penalties are slackened.
Asked whether the reduction in traffic fines would lead to a return to widespread “indiscipline” by motorists, he said that this aspect was being examined.
“However, the public, by and large, have become more road conscious and disciplined. They have imbibed a road culture which, it is hoped, will remain ingrained in them.”
Credit: Photo by Jeff