Drive to make Qatar’s roads safer
23 Feb 2016 - 11:55
Every year in Qatar more than 4,000 vehicle crashes occur, causing more than 600 major injuries and around 200 deaths, according to a study by Hamad Medical Corporation.
By Fazeena Saleem
Road safety has reached among top priorities as traffic accidents are considered a modern problem which is causing enormous losses to many people. Road accident fatalities and injuries have a direct and heart-breaking impact on victims and those around them. It is not an exaggeration to say that number of young victims of the road accidents are more than that of deadly disease victims.
Each day 500 children are killed and many others injured around the world, according to the UN. More young people aged between 15 and 29 die from road crashes each year than from HIV/Aids, Malaria, Tuberculosis or homicide.
The situation in Qatar too is similar. Every year in Qatar more than 4,000 vehicle crashes occur, causing more than 600 major injuries and around 200 deaths, according to a study by Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC).
Another study by Qatar University (QU) shows that the number of traffic accidents in Qatar has increased more than five times during the past 18 years.
Research by QU’s Qatar Road Safety Studies Centre (QRSCC) found that the total number of all types of accidents rose on an average 14 percent each year between 1996 and 2013, from 44,077 to 290,829.
With an aim to combat this situation, Qatar launched the National Road Safety Strategy (NRSS) 2013-2022, which was designed to save 800 lives and prevent 2,000 serious accidents within 10 years. At the same time, Maersk Oil Qatar was the driving force, along with Brigadier Al Maliki and the Traffic Department, behind the launch of the national road safety brand – One Second – that aims to co-ordinate programmes to improve road safety.
Launched in December 2013, it aims to develop awareness and understanding about positive road safety behaviours in students aged 12 to 18. School visits, where interactive presentations, a state-of-the-art simulator and experienced instructors are used to engage with students, have been the programme’s core activity.
Since its launch more than 5,000 students experienced Students for Road Safety coaching in its state of the art driving simulator in schools and community events arranged by the General Directorate of Traffic at the Ministry of Interior. The programme visited 14 schools in 2015, including Al Yarmouk Independent School, Qatar Independent Technical School, Ahmed Bin Mohammad Military College and Newton International School. Those figures show that schools and students like what is being offered and indeed the programme had doubled the number of students who experienced it compared to 2014.
The programme aims to continue effecting grass-roots behaviour change among children between the age of 12 and 18 year, in both private and independent schools in the years to come.
“The solid partnership between Maersk Oil Qatar and the Traffic Department at the Ministry of Interior has brought tangible benefits to Qatar by seeking to seed behaviour change and transform students into road safety ambassadors both at school and at home. Most recently, the partnership saw more than 2,000 students trained to be road safety ambassadors during the 2015 Darb Al Saai National Day activates,” said a Maersk Oil Qatar spokesperson .
“The programme has received a positive response from teachers across Qatar who have mentioned how the children walk away from the initiative with an improved sense of how drivers should behave on the road and why it’s everyone’s responsibility to improve driving standards. Students tell us that going through the state of the art road simulator with the programme’s experienced instructors and seeing, with their own eyes, why it is so important to be vigilant while on the road and encourage their families and friends to drive safer on the roads,” he added. Both Maersk Oil Qatar and the Traffic Department at the Ministry of Interior are working closely with the Qatar University Road Safety Studies Centre (QRSSC) on a number of research projects. The centre was established to conduct extensive studies and analysis of accident data and information in order to significantly reduce road accidents and develop road safety technology. The studies will focus on three areas; the effect of the Student for Road Safety programme on youth behaviour and awareness, the levels of awareness and education achieved from the Baby Car Seat programme and the overall effectiveness of the brand and strategy of the One Second initiative.
Since launch of One Second brand, with the approval of the Ministry of Interior, Maersk Oil Qatar has continued to show its commitment to road safety in Qatar through different approaches. Firstly by launching the Baby Car Seat programme, where 7,000 baby car seats were distributed across the country with the aim to raise awareness of its importance amongst the local community. This was then followed by the launch of the Student for Road Safety programme and the research project with Qatar University. Most recently, Maersk Oil Qatar sponsored the 24th International Traffic Medicine Congress, held in Doha, to assist the country to achieve the National Traffic Medicine Strategy Goal 2013-2022, which was designed to save 800 lives and prevent 2,000 serious accidents within ten years This followed a knowledge sharing visit to the Swedish Vision Zero authorities in 2014, sponsored by Maersk Oil Qatar, and a PowerTalk road safety event in Qatar this year with key stakeholders in Qatar.