Qatar ranks first worldwide in decreasing number of traffic casualties in comparison with the rising number of vehicles and residents in a country, said a senior traffic official.
The rate of road causalities is nine per100,000 inhabitants in Qatar, while the international rate is 12 cases of deaths per each 100,000 inhabitants, said Brigadier Mohamed Saad al-Kharji, director of the Traffic Department. He was speaking at a forum of “Road accidents and their consequences on young people” at a Ramadan youth activities tent organised by the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage in collaboration with the Traffic Department.
The forum featured various activities including the screening of a documentary on traffic accidents. The forum was meant to instruct young people on the importance of traffic safety.
Al- Kharji said traffic casualties in 2006 were the worst as the number of road accident deaths amounted to 270. Pedestrians represent around 30-35% of the total number of deaths in road accidents in Qatar. According HMC statistics, severe injuries resulting from road accidents have decreased by 45%.
“If we let things go as it used to be then, the number of road deaths would have amounted to 400 cases in 2010 according to estimates of some experts. So it was necessary to issue the Traffic Law no. 19 for 2007,” he added.
Al-Kharji explained that the law was met by a criticism from some quarters, describing it as tough and having excessive penalties. However, the good outcome achieved so far proved the law’s effectiveness.
Deaths resulting from road accidents amounted to 230 in 2008, a remarkable fall, taking into consideration the increasing number of vehicles on the roads.
Figures fell to 222 cases in 2009 but they rose to 226 in 2010. Still the overall percentage went down by 0.9% from the previous year because of the increase in number of vehicles, passengers and population in the country. The number of road accident injuries decreased by 4.8% in 2010 compared to the previous year.
Despite the increase in population, the number of road accident deaths continued to fall dramatically, reaching 205 deaths for last year.
The traffic director stressed that law enforcement alone was not enough in improving the traffic situation and curbing the number of casualties and injuries.
He called on more participation and co-operation among all government, non-government and private entities to promote traffic awareness among people. “The school curriculum should incorporate portions related to traffic safety,” he added.