Qatar to boost road safety standards as death rate goes up

April 12, 2011

Qatar’s National Development Strategy (NDS) has called for stronger action to reduce the country’s pedestrian death rate, which accounts for 32 per cent of all road fatalities, almost double the worldwide average of 17 per cent.

According to the 2011-2016 strategy, extensive safety and awareness campaigns and more aggressive law enforcement over the last three years have helped reduce fatalities to their lowest level in two decades, but road accidents involving at least one vehicle and resulting in damage and injury have been increasing for the last five years.

Between 2002 and 2008, the number of deaths in road traffic accidents has recorded a 12 per cent annual growth rate, whereas cases of minor injuries saw an increase of 23 per cent while those of major injuries increased four per cent, Qatari daily Gulf Times reports on Tuesday.

The total number of deaths in road accidents stood at 114 in 2002, but rose to 150 in 2003, 164 in 2004, 206 in 2005 and shot up to 270 in 2006, before declining to 199 in 2007. However, the figure climbed to 230 in 2008.

The total number of major injuries dropped from 452 in 2002 to 410 in 2003 and further to 313 in 2004, before climbing back to 455 in 2005, 462 in 2006, 518 in 2007 and reaching 570 in 2008.

In the case of minor injuries, the figure went down from 966 in 2002 to 881 in 2003, shot up to 1,058 in 2004, and dipped marginally to 1,054 in 2005 before rising to 1,171 in 2006 and 2,011 in 2007 and leaping to 3,795 in 2008.

While the 2008 fatality rate of 15.9 deaths per 100,000 people is a fair national result for Qatar, it is still markedly higher than the global average of 10.3 per cent for high-income countries, the daily said.

According to the NDS, the main causes of road accidents have remained the same, with reckless driving, crossing the median strip, insufficient distance and lane changing errors at roundabouts and on higher-speed roads responsible for more than 90 per cent of accidents.

The number of heavy vehicles has also increased, causing additional safety issues due to either insufficient oversight or ignored laws.

The problems in this connection include a lack of dedicated truck routes, overloaded vehicles, exceeding size restrictions and illegal parking in residential neighbourhoods.

Until further public bus routes are opened or other public transport options come into effect, traffic congestion will continue to increase if additional capacity is not added to the road network or if vehicles are not taken off the roads.

The NDS says the government plans to improve road traffic safety with a safe-system approach that will reduce risky behaviour, boost pedestrian safety, enhance roads and strengthen law enforcement.

The proposed approach makes better use of police resources and adds extra capacity where required to reduce risk to motorists through better enforcement of speed limits, seatbelt laws and ban on mobile phones while driving.

The government will identify the roads most in need of upgrade and ensure that roads are well lit and have sufficient signs.

An address system based on Geographical Information System Qatar Mapping will be studied to minimise driver distraction while searching for locations.

The system is also to be used to categorise roads as major, secondary or local and to identify problem areas in order to improve future planning.

The safety strategy will also analyse and study the number of stop signs, traffic lights, road markings, road shoulders and footpaths, vehicle safety regulations, provisions for pedestrians and cyclists, driver licensing systems, driver training procedures and punishment standards for violations.

The target, as listed out in the NDS, is to reduce the annual number of road accidents from 300 per 100,000 people to 250 and related fatalities to 10 per 100,000 people.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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