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Friday, June 25, 2021

Ashghal to boost Qatar school safety with new speed limits, crosswalks

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Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Reduced speed limits, pedestrian crossings and other safety features will soon be added to more than 200 schools in Qatar to help reduce road traffic accidents, the nation’s Public Works Authority has said.

Some locations will also see the installation of roundabouts, designated pickup areas and speed bumps to improve traffic flow as part of Ashghal’s School Zone Safety Program.

In a statement, the authority said a number of schools in need of the extra safety measures have been identified by the Ministry of Interior and the Supreme Education Council. It did not list them by name.

Curbing accidents

So far, improvement works to the roads surrounding 19 schools have taken place, while temporary measures have been undertaken around 11 more schools pending the completion of final works.

Redevelopment of the roads system around a further 10 school zones is currently in the pipeline, Ashghal added.

The program, which the authority aims to roll out to all schools in Qatar, is a key part of the nation’s 10-year National Road Safety Strategy, which was launched two years ago with ambitious targets to cut the number of road deaths and serious injuries.

Paramedics rush to the accident site outside Doha College West Bay.
Paramedics rush to the accident site outside Doha College West Bay.

It also comes in the wake of a number of accidents that have taken place outside schools in Qatar.

In October 2009, five-year-old Dana Sakr died after she was struck by a car as she crossed the road outside the Lebanese School in West Bay.

And in October last year, a primary school student at Doha College West Bay was struck by a driver as she walked to school with her mother and younger sibling.

Safe roads

Under the schools’ safe zone program, the SEC or schools themselves can ask to be included, and Ashghal meets with head teachers to understand their needs.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Among the measures that can be put in place are:

  • Creating 30kph maximum speed areas around schools, which are clearly marked with signs;
  • Installing speed bumps;
  • Building raised pedestrian crossings and traffic warning signs at school entrances and exits;
  • Creating safe drop-off and pick-up points;
  • Installing raised medians and mini roundabouts to improve safe traffic flow; and
  • Putting down rumble strips on the approach to schools to slow down traffic.

Creating footpaths around schools, building safe entrances and exits for schools on main roads and creating new car parks can also be put in place to help improve safety.

Going forward, these safety measures will be incorporated in all schools that are currently under construction and those scheduled to be built in the future, Ashghal said, adding:

“The program aims at ensuring the safety of students and parents upon their arrival or departure from schools and at easing traffic congestion which is seen next to schools and which exacerbates due to the lack of parking spots and due to lack of sidewalks and footpaths.”

Reducing deaths and injuries

Qatar’s National Road Safety Strategy aims to significantly decrease the number of deaths and serious accidents that result from crashes in the next seven years.

The targets include cutting the number of deaths to six per 100,000 residents, and getting to an absolute figure of 130 fatalities a year by 2022.

While still high, the number of deaths as a result of road accidents in Qatar does appear to be on the decline. In 2014, there were a total of 222 fatalities – down from 246 in 2013.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Adjusted for population inflation, this equates to approximately 9.93 road deaths per 100,000 residents in 2014, compared to 12.2 per 100,000 residents the previous year.

The nation also aims to cut the number of serious injuries in half, to 300 a year. However, as a total figure, this has increased. There were 671 cases of major injuries resulted from traffic accidents last year, up from 642 in 2013. Still, per 100,000 of the population, this shows a slight decrease –  30.02 cases per 100,000 in 2014 and 31.84 in 2013.

The strategy’s ultimate target is to reduce this rate to 15 per 100,000 by 2022, although it adds:

“In the future it is suggested that greater emphasis should be placed on targets to reduce the actual number of killed and seriously injured people in Qatar rather than on improved rates. This will lead to greater focus on the reduction of human pain and suffering caused by road traffic crashes.”

Other road safety measures that are planned as part of the strategy include installing new pedestrian crossings and overpasses, better street signage, creating crash barriers in road medians, construction of additional road lanes to ease traffic congestion and better design of road intersections.

Thoughts?

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dubious
dubious
6 years ago

Can they also legislate to prevent parents parking in unsafe and inconvenient places too?

Just because there is no parking immediately adjacent the school gate is no excuse for stopping in the middle of the road or other selfish positions. Your poor little love will not shrivel up and die if you have to walk more than 2 metres between the car and the school.

When I were a wee nipper we had to walk all the way to school, (uphill both ways,.ofc) and had to play outside in the playground throughout the year, and they hadn’t invented shade covers over the playgrounds. I still came back to the Middle East; perhaps it is Stockholm syndrome?

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  dubious

My dad had the same story but it was snowing and he was barefoot. : )

Chipper fluffypants
Chipper fluffypants
6 years ago

Has anyone driven past EMS at 1:30pm? Cars double and triple parking. Cars parked on the main roads, students running in between cars, and cars coming up the ramp at 80km an hour having to swerve to miss cars parked in the street.

Scarletti
Scarletti
6 years ago

nobody will enforce these and nobody will adhere to them – will fall prey to the ‘its my country syndrome’ !

Big Sumo
Big Sumo
6 years ago
Reply to  Scarletti

Speed bumps do reduce speed, fact. The road engineering has been designed to reduce the majority of drivers, it doesn’t need enforcement. Go drive the news schools and you will see it’s quite difficult to drive at considerable speed. Of course it may not stop 100% of drivers attempting to drive it at 80km but it’s better than what was there before and better than nothing. Ashghal knows enforcement at schools would be a “challenge” hence an engineering solution. Go drive yourself.

dubious
dubious
6 years ago
Reply to  Big Sumo

Installing large trees down the side of the road also slows traffic considerably and isn’t as bad for your suspension, emissions, noise or fuel economy as a street with speedbumps.

Scarletti
Scarletti
6 years ago

not more speed bumps – they are a pain, and dont cure anything – the issue is driving culture, not speed bumps

Jamal
Jamal
6 years ago
Reply to  Scarletti

Agreed. If many drivers abided by the speed limits there wouldn’t be an issue to begin with.

Amber
Amber
6 years ago

People need to follow the limit and driver more responsible around schools. But parent also need to use common sense with their kids. There are far too many lazy parents in this country ( locals and expatriates alike) who don’t want to walk their child into the school.

The school I work in has a drop off point for parents but they want to drive up exactly to the gate so they don’t have to get out and actually walk their kid in.

Then have the parents who do use the drop off point but will allow their 6 year old to cross the road alone.

Parents need to be held accountable.

EJATDRC
EJATDRC
6 years ago

Ashgal can do whatever but the issue is people are not going to follow it. They need to have more police patrolling in the school zone. In US they beef up the patrolling during the beginning of the terms to remind parents to slow down. I do agree with the lady’s comment below that school need to do a better job for parents not to stop right in front of the school. These changes are difficult for parents who are already doing this however they need to adapt them.

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