Though it is illegal in Qatar to text or make phones calls while driving, mobile phone usage remains one of the top causes of road accidents here.
The violation is punishable by a QR500 fine, but in the past, Qatar officials have attempted to use warnings and educational campaigns to change habits, instead of writing up motorists.
To raise awareness about the ongoing problem, the Ministry of Interior is now asking residents to pledge to cease talking and sending messages on their phones while driving.
In a Facebook post that has gotten more than 1,000 likes since Sunday, MOI said:
“The statistics in all countries of the world have proven that the most serious accidents occur in a fraction of a second due to loss of concentration and the drivers lose their concentration at the moment of using the mobile phone while driving. Many lives were lost and some were exposed to total or partial disability due to using phone while driving.
Hence, make it your habit not to use mobile while driving. In case if you are compelled to make or receive any emergency call, stop your vehicle nearest available parking and make the call… How many of us can pledge that we won’t use mobile while driving?”
This is not the first time the government has urged residents to reconsider their unsafe driving habits.
Last year, MOI rolled out the One Second road safety campaign, saying that’s how long it takes to change a life forever.
According to the campaign literature, you are four times more likely to crash if using a mobile phone while driving, and reaction times are 50 percent slower while using your phone than while driving normally.
In addition to seeking promises to hang up and drive, MOI also invited discussion on the subject.
Some commenters on Facebook urged traffic police to step up enforcement and issue more fines to drivers on their phones. Others suggested motorists use handsfree bluetooth sets, or cell phone jamming technology while on the road.
What are your thoughts?