A Qatar-based study has revealed that 40.3% of drivers involved in accidents were driving four-wheel-drive vehicles.
The topic of the study was the impact of 4WD vehicles on risky driver behaviour and road traffic accidents.
The study, by Dr Abdulbari Bener (department of medical statistics & epidemiology, Hamad Medical Corporation) covered 1,110 Qatari drivers, including 263 women.
“As many as 80.5% of the drivers had an accident at least once in the last three years,” he told Gulf Times.
The results indicated that the 20-29-years old driver group had the highest proportion of accident involvement.
Another study on the effect of mobile phone use on driving style and skills, also conducted by Dr Bener, found the same age group responsible for most of the accidents.
The results showed that those driving 4WD vehicles committed more violations, errors, and lapses than small car users.
The participants were selected from among patients registered and attending 11 primary health care clinics, including three semi-urban.
These PHCs accounted for over 70% of the total visits by Qataris. Qualified nurses and health educators were instructed to structurally interview and complete a questionnaire from randomly selected Qatari men and women.
“Accidents seemed to occur mostly in urban areas and for experienced drivers,” explained Dr Bener while observing that 54.8% of those not involved in accidents reported the highest seat belt usage rate.
It was found that 4WD vehicle drivers, in general, exceed the speed limits and drive faster than small car users, and also had higher number of speeding tickets.
The results revealed that 4WD vehicle owners drive dangerously and carelessly, compared to small car users.
“Previous studies showed that the knowledge of rules and the meaning of traffic signs in Arab countries are less than perfect,” Dr Bener recalled.
It can be assumed that the physical size and power of the 4WD might influence risky driving behaviours and/or ignorance of safety concerns, he said.
The results of the present study also showed that those driving 4WD vehicles are less vulnerable to injuries, probably due to the size and quality.
When involved in an accident, 4WD vehicles sustain significantly less damage and their occupants are less severely injured and/or killed than those vehicles of medium and standard size and other road users.
“This might give an illusion of safety and driving in a ‘safe box’ and can also be the reason for not wearing a seatbelt, a common habit among those driving 4WD vehicles,” Dr Bener maintained.
The expert pointed out that compared to European countries and the US, Arab countries have a very high road accident fatality rate.
“According to the 2001 statistics, 22.3 persons, 14.8 persons and 7.3 persons per 10,000 vehicles were killed in Libya, Saudi and Qatari road traffic accidents,” he said.
In comparison, the 1999 statistics were approximately 1.8 for Finland, 2.4 for France, 1.5 for UK, and 1.9 for the US.
The study was funded by the Qatar Red Crescent and supported by Hamad Medical Corporation, and the state of Qatar, Dr Bener added.
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