In a bid to curb bad driving in Doha, a group of students and researchers at Northwestern University in Qatar is developing a video campaign aimed specifically at local youth.
Earlier this year, the team won a grant from the Qatar National Research Fund for its project idea, “Chicken is for the birds: Changing the deadly driving behaviors of young Qatari men.”
As a first step, the group is researching the attitudes and behaviors of this segment of motorists for ideas on what it would take for them to modify unsafe driving practices.
Speaking to Doha News, lead researcher and assistant professor Susan Dun explained what would happen after her team holds several focus groups over the next few months:
“We will then design a message campaign designed to educate and change driving behaviors, primarily through short videos, that are based on what we learn from our conversations with Qatari men. In the final stage we will screen the videos throughout Qatar and engage the audience in talk backs where we can.”
As Qatar’s population grows, its roads have become increasingly congested. Compounding the problem is that some motorists simply don’t follow the rules. Incidences of tailgating, speeding or driving recklessly are often observed on the road.
Over the past few years, serious injuries from accidents have jumped, and road-related crashes have killed more than 200 people annually.
While bad driving is a problem that affects all nationalities here, Dun said that statistically, young Qatari men are particularly at risk for being injured and dying in road accidents.
“Qatari youth are the future of this country, so we want to help them learn to drive more safely in order to save lives. It’s important to note that this campaign started with a group of Qatari students who care deeply about this issue and wish to save lives of their families and fellow Qataris.”
Safety awareness campaigns are not new to Qatar. Last year, the Ministry of Interior rolled out “One Second Qatar” to educate motorists on the importance of wearing seat belts, using child car seats and not using mobile phones while driving.
And this fall, ExxonMobil Qatar rolled out a road safety campaign urging Doha drivers to hang up while behind the wheel.
What do you think about our Road Safety awareness campaign? pic.twitter.com/fIiQBewrN5
— ExxonMobil Qatar (@exxonmobil_qa) October 4, 2014
Residents, however, have long questioned the efficacy of such awareness campaigns.
In late 2012, the majority of more than 4,000 residents surveyed by the MOI said the best way to tackle bad driving in Qatar was to increase police presence and enforcement on the roads, as well as teach people the basics of driving culture.
Earlier this month, the nation’s traffic chief pledged that an increase in patrols was on the way.
Saving even one life
Dun acknowledged that a new video campaign would “not change an entire country.” But she added that the aim to be reach at least some drivers, and that “a coordinated effort between road design, law enforcement and message campaigns would be the best.”
One of the researchers on the NU-Q project, Syed Owais Ali, agreed, telling Doha News:
“I have been living in the region for the past 14 years, and I have had first hand encounters to problem we are tackling.
What I love about this research project is that it extends beyond just the measurements, and we use the data gathered to construct and produce a persuasive message for the public. We often discuss in our team meetings that even if we manage to save one life, we would be successful and that idea is very powerful to me.”
The NU-Q team will conduct focus groups over the next several months, and the video campaign is expected to be introduced in May of 2015.
Qatari men ages 18 to 25 years old who regularly drive or have participated in stunt/high speed driving are invited to participate in the study. Those are interested can contact Dun at [email protected] for more information.
Note: This article has been updated to correctly reflect the spelling of Prof. Susan Dun’s name.
1. “statistically, young Qatari men are particularly at risk for being injured and dying in road accidents.” – where is the statistical evidence for this?
2. “Qatari men ages 18 to 25 years old who regularly drive or have participated in stunt/high speed driving are invited to participate in the study.” – Love to see the ethical disclosure for this and I would hope home campus are aware of this exercise. Knowingly surveying young men who admit to dangerous and/or illegal driving without reporting them is a very fine line.
Also not clear on the point of a journalism/communications school doing research on traffic safety? Wouldn’t someone like the TRL be more appropriate or is the research more about the appropriateness of communication mechanisms? Without detailed traffic research evidence to back up any communications exercise how is this intended to work?
Don’t get me wrong – Anything to improve the current situation would be beneficial but if there is to be money spent on this hopefully it is spent in the right areas.
News organizations do this type of reporting all over the world, especially in the west. It’s called investigative journalism. Unfortunately there are no investigative journalist here other than these Northwestern (US Uni) students who have been taught to think for themselves and not cowtow to the government like the papers here, and to some extent Al Jazeera (aka the Al Thani News Network). Thats’s called freedom of the press.
Also journalist are not allowed to divulge their sources (also a western phenomenon) or they might as well find another line of work. They would not be punished for reporting something illegal and not reporting. Although I again am thinking like a western.
I can give you a lot of statistics just on my ride to Mamoura and back. One LC on Waab blew a red light a clear 5 seconds after it turned red. At least 20 others weaved in and out of traffic at high rates of speed. Ironically at the next red light I was sitting next to, or actually in front of, at least 10 of them.
Why was I going to Mamoura you ask? Well last night a LC was behind me flashing and honking then at 60 KM an hour ( we were 100 m from a red light, I had cars in front and beside me) he bumps my vehicle from behind then races so close beside me on drivers side once he hit the left turning lanes that he hit my mirror with his. It broke his off, no damage to mine. Then he swerved in front of me to continue in the straight ahead lanes as was I narrowly missing the car that’s in front of me and myself having to slam on the brakes to keep from hitting him. So after all that he’s sitting in front of me at a red light. He gained what 5 meters and a broken mirror and now hopefully some law enforcement. He would not get out of his LC and told me to FO. Once light changed he gunned it and turned left from the straight lane narrowly missing a car properly turning left. So needless to say I was at the police station by myself and gave a report and had to go back today. I get the final report Tuesday. Should be interesting to see the results of that. Luckily I only have a scrape on spare wheel cover. If I’d had the kids and wife in the car I might have beat the crap out of him.
The attitude of entitlement is so strange here. It’s not all but if that select mentality of drivers answered truthfully then they’d all probably say “it’s my country, it’s my right, I can do what I want, get out of my country, blah blah blah…” Unfortunately for us sane drivers the numbers of them are quite high.
Best of luck with the police report. it would be interesting to let us know the outcome?
I think the weekend (never mind the weekday) is filled with incidents for most of the readers. I was zig zagged by two racing lemons passing qatar university yesterday, hard braking for the speed camera and then accelerating away between the other cars, those having to swerve to avoid them. 5 mins later, behind a Nissan Patrol breaking the lights at the Duhail interchange into the oncoming traffic, 10 mins after that being tailgated around Sidra. PS, the smashed up cars by the road are not working. Better pictures of smashed up people. Set the engine size to the age at least. Dont let a 21 year old access to a 6.8 litre 300+km car in the first place. I can dream. at present, it’s a nightmare.
These things should be taught even before a person gets a driver’s licence. Once the drivers get used to reckless and dangerous style of driving, it is very hard to change. Then the only way forward is strict imposition of traffic rules, with more patrols on the road, and more spot checks.
The Exxon-Mobil campaign board shown above should include other languages. Not just arabic and english.
Great! Another video campaign! Since those have obviously worked so well in the past. And a pledge from the MOI, since pledges have worked so well too. I feel safer already!
On Thursday I crept by an accident that had just happened between a dump truck and an LC on Onaiza St. There was a white police car next to me, but he just went right by the unattended accident next to me. Shortly past it, a different LC blew by us at 150+. What were the policemen doing? The two uniformed officers in the car were talking, laughing, playing with their phones (even the driver), and eating chips. If the enforcement doesn’t care then campaigns, videos, and pledges won’t do jack. Someone should try to get this through the proud, thick skulls of the government.
What about targeting parents about their terrible driving and stress the example they should be setting when raising their children? When it comes to driving in Qatar the best hope of role models are westerners who have grown up in an environment where safety and enforcement are taken seriously.
—Dunn acknowledged that a new video campaign would “not change an entire country.” —- You and Your useless campaigns. The only way to raise awareness is that these punks should serve jail time or have their beloved LC confiscated for doing it in the streets. OR BETTER YET GIVE EM ALL FREE tickets to LAGUNA SECA. 18year olds are adrenaline junkies and there is nothing here in this tiny State that can cater to ’em needs. its about time someone build them a real racing circuit and not some lame drag racing strip, after all they might actually have talents in racing rather than getting involved in accidents harming themselves and others–hows that for your research purposes.
Cultural issues such as separation of sexes might play a role here…testosterone needs an outlet.
Tut tut. Dangerous ground here. Your statement objectifies women. So we are only here to provide an outlet for the testosterone overspill in men?
And I thought we were only useful for growing babies.
Turns out we have two uses after all .
Quite a leap you make with that statement.
It is a fact that women have a “dampening” effect on men, ie. the higher the woman ratio, the lower general aggression. It’s possibly politically not wise to say but it’s biology 🙂
Making such campaigns is another media stunt to show off a ” we do care ! ” attitude, however, its another waste of time and money ( good luck for the students though ), which makes me wonder if stopping serial killers is possible using such method !! If teenagers / adults with this criminal attitude can not be fixed, then good parenting will definitely not be fixed. Besides, whoever thinks that these campaigns are of any use is simply living in another planet. Whoever kills people while DRIVING wouldn’t bother or pay attention, because for them its a matter of pride. To deal with that pride, name and shame is a possible solution ( please note that we still don’t know the name of the teenager who killed the family of 5, while we knew all details about the dead ). I remember once somebody suggested having traffic police from Germany or Britain ( not sure really ) so that the traffic laws are enforced, without WASTA that keeps the pleasure of killing others on the road. We need a miracle !
Complete waste of time.. If someone seriously wants to reduce the rate of fatalities then there is only one way to go: ENFORCEMENT. I yet have to see a country where road law enforcement is as lenient as here. Mobile hidden speed cams and relentlessly fine any violation, especially the use of mobile phones while driving, without considering nationalities! I bet you’d cut deaths in half!