Motorists in Qatar who get into car accidents must report these incidents to the police within 48 hours, or risk a QR1,000 fine, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) has reminded residents.
Those whose vehicles are damaged by an unknown individual while driving or when their cars are parked must also reach out to the traffic department within this time limit, as part of the MOI’s recent deal with insurers to move to an electronic reporting system, according to the Peninsula.
Last month, the government signed an agreement to send reports of all accidents involving damage to cars directly from the police department to insurance companies.
The goal was to reduce the need for motorists to go to the Traffic Department in person to collect the paperwork needed to make vehicle repairs.
At the time, MOI did not give a start date for the new system, but said that it would enable officers on the scene of an accident to electronically log all the details.
The relevant insurance company would then be directly informed, and motorists would be sent an incident number and details of the insurers by text message.
Reporting an accident to authorities in a timely fashion is not a new law in Qatar, but the rules appear to be seeing renewed enforcement by the Traffic Department.
Under Article 66 of the Traffic Law (No. 19 of 2007), drivers in minor and major accidents are required to report the incident to police “immediately.”
A Qatar traffic consultant told Doha News that the 48-hour grace period had been extended to motorists out of “generosity” and in a bid to stop any delays in reporting incidents as soon as they occur.
This latest move comes amid an ongoing public awareness campaign by the Traffic Department about the penalties facing drivers who break common road rules.
The police have increasingly been fining motorists who overtake others from the right at junctions at the last minute, use emergency lanes, double park, talk on mobile phones while driving and park in areas reserved for those with special needs.
At the beginning of this year, the MOI was said to be sending out more unmarked patrols onto Qatar’s roads to catch and fine those who drive badly.
This is in addition to the regular patrol cars which can often be seen parked at major intersections and in emergency lanes during rush hour to pull over and penalize offenders.
The fine for not reporting accidents in a timely fashion is of the same value as the QR1,000 penalty introduced by the MOI last summer for motorists who fail to move their cars after being involved in minor accidents.
Through a short video and public campaign on social media, the ministry has been urging drivers not to block traffic on roads after a bump, but instead to move their vehicles to the nearest parking area and call police.
Previously, the understanding had been that all vehicles had to be left at the scene to enable police to properly determine culpability.
But with ongoing pressure on Qatar’s roads as the population booms, that strategy has become impractical.