Wayward motorists are resorting to rampant misuse of the hard shoulders on a number of major roads in Doha, aggravating the risk of accidents and worsening traffic congestion.
“These offenders are defeating the very purpose of hard shoulders apart from throwing to the wind all the relevant safety guidelines,” a road traffic safety expert told Gulf Times yesterday.
In Qatar, hard shoulders are on the extreme right of highways, separated from the slow lane by an uninterrupted line of white or reflective paint.
Hard shoulders are generally kept clear of motor vehicle traffic. In the event of an emergency or breakdown, motorists should pull into the hard shoulder and stay clear of traffic.
Ambulances and police vehicles are allowed to use the hard shoulders to bypass traffic congestion.
“The situation on Al Shamal Road is a classic example for violations of all the rules pertaining to hard shoulders,” the expert pointed out.
Al Shamal Road, a vital link of the Qatar Expressway Programme and a major arterial thoroughfare, has three lanes on either side in addition to a hard shoulder each.
During the peak traffic hours, when all the three lanes are packed bumper-to-bumper, a number of reckless motorists could be seen racing through the hard shoulders.
These motorists then merge into the slow lane at their will or when they spot any obstruction ahead on the hard shoulder.
“One has to be wary of those motorists who drive on the hard shoulder to beat the traffic, as they could swing into the slow lane any moment, triggering abrupt braking by other motorists and rear-end collisions or even pile-ups,” a long-time Doha resident said.
Traffic policemen do keep a watch on the misuse of hard shoulders on major thoroughfares, especially during peak hours.
“The other day, I was so happy to see a traffic cop on his motorcycle following a SUV speeding through a hard shoulder on Al Shamal Road and issue a ticket,” a motorist recalled.
But, given the heavy pressure on the Traffic Department, it may not be possible to keep a constant vigil on all roads, so the authorities concerned should think about installing special cameras to catch motorists who misuse hard shoulders, the expert suggested.
“As of now, the main reason why some motorists misuse the hard shoulders is that they have a feeling that there is no proper monitoring. But once, police start to take firm action, the offenders will get the message.”
Right now, the video cameras at major intersections and traffic signals are linked to a centralised control room, from where officials could monitor the traffic situation on a real-time basis.
“There should be dedicated cameras for real-time monitoring of the hard shoulders of highways if this menace is to be curbed,” he added.
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