Winter is coming and that camping season is also around the corner. It also means more and more people will flock to places like Sealine to enjoy the weather and take part in outdoor activities. With this, comes the risk of traffic accidents, especially those related to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). These include dune buggies, quad bikes, etc.
According to statistics released by the General Directorate of Traffic, in 2018, Sealine was the fifth place in Qatar that saw deaths related to traffic accidents. Approximately, eight people died in traffic-related deaths in the Sealine area in 2018. Most of the traffic accidents at Sealine are ATV-related.
According to a report that combines data from Al Wakra Hospital’s Emergency Department, Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Ambulance Service, and the Hamad Trauma Centre, during each year between 2010 and 2017 the Qatar Trauma Registry recorded a 25 % annual increase in the number of ATV-related injury victims admitted to the National Trauma Center. The greatest increase was child victims, which made up 40% of those injured. There was also a 34% increase in the number of female victims.
Each year more than 75 ATV-related injury victims sustain severe injuries to their head, chest, extremities, and abdomen. These injuries are severe enough to require surgery or ICU admission. Children and females are most at risk of injury because they often do not have the necessary weight and strength to adequately control an ATV moving at high speed. Most of the people with ATV injuries are youths between the ages of 12 and 29.
The first reason is that, more often than not, parents let their young children drive ATVs like dune buggies even though they have no experience driving and are not even qualified to drive.
The second reason is that when these parents or their children are renting the ATVs, there are no age restrictions followed by the rental company.
The third reason is that there are a number of unregulated drifting events that take place at the Sealine, which are neither safe nor secure.
The fourth reason is that there are no proper signs to notify drivers that there are dangerous spots up ahead or turns that must be handled with caution.
There will be round-the-clock patrolling by the traffic police of the Sealine area to enure that rules and regulations are being followed and safety precautions are being taken by those in the areas with their big SUVs or ATVs.
There will be new terms and conditions, and specific requirements for the registration of ATV, motorbike rental shops as well as for those that have vehicles for transporting tourists.
There will be routine inspections of the shops that rent out ATVs to ensure they aren’t renting out the buggies to underage children, and to make sure they are following all required safety precautions.
There will be more awareness campaigns at schools, universities and camping areas to teach people how to be safe while dune bashing, ATV riding and the risks of reckless driving which can be fatal.
Last year the Qatar national Tourism Council launched the Enna Project to ensure campers and visitors to Sealine and Inland Sea can benefit from safe and enjoyable experiences while protecting the wildlife in the area and providing access to services and amenities.
An important element in enhancing the camping experience, according to the Enna Project is designating a special zone for ATV sports, thereby, ensuring the safety of the area’s visitors while protecting the campers’ privacy. The ATV sports zone will be built over an area of 300,000 square metres and will feature 28 motorcycle rental shops and eight ATV tracks (two for advanced riders, one for intermediate level riders, four for beginners and one for ladies only).
Unless one has proper training in driving an ATV, it should not be attempted because ATVs can be quite unstable and can also be hard to control, especially when driving at high speeds. The ATV can rollover at high speeds, and also collide with other ATVs or objects in the way. Injuries and falls can be fatal, too. The following safety tips will help to avoid traffic related accidents at the Sealine:
ATV riders must always wear proper protection. This includes long pants, a long-sleeved shirt/jacket, protection for the eyes (googles), gloves, shoes/boots that cover the ankles, and most importantly, a proper helmet.
ATV’s are heavy, complex machines that most children are not developmentally capable of safely operating. The size, power, and weight of an ATV requires complex decision-making, impulse control, and strength, which are not present in young children under the age of 12.
While driving an ATV, it's important to be able to adjust one's position and shift one's weight if there are any sudden changes in direction, speed or terrain. That's why it's best that only one person sits on an ATV. Having a second person on board distinctly increases the chance of weight imbalance and instability, and these are two of the most common reasons for accidents and rollovers.
An important thing to note is that it is extremely unsafe to drive an ATV if using any substance that impairs reaction time and judgement, or even being sleepy or drowsy.
Most ATV’s do not have headlights and the inability to see the terrain clearly and to be seen by others makes night ATV trips riskier. Most ATVs have fixed rear axles which do not allow the inner rear wheel to rotate freely when turning. This can cause the sudden release of torque which, on firm surfaces, promotes lurching and loss of control.
Most ATV injuries happen due to rollovers or collisions with fixed objects like walls, posts, etc., other ATVs or vehicles. Children are more likely to be injured these accidents, and adults are more likely to be injured in backward rollovers, which is common when driving up hills or dunes, doing ‘wheelies'’ or performing stunts.
An ATV is a complex motor vehicle and it needs formal instructions and/or training before being able to use one properly. In some countries, individuals need an ATV license.
Have you ever driven an ATV? Would you let your child drive one without the proper gear and without formal training? Are you happy with the ATV related laws here? Do let us know your thoughts in our Comments section. Like and share the article - it keeps us going!
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