The number of people killed in road accidents in Qatar hit a six-month high in October, which proved to be one of the deadliest periods on the country’s roads so far this year, according to newly released government figures.
Some 24 people died in vehicle collisions in October, new figures from the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics show. That’s double the number of fatalities recorded in September and the highest figure since April, when 29 people perished on Qatar’s roads.
At the same time, the number of speeding tickets and other traffic violations issued by authorities declined sharply that month. Although the two are not necessarily related, the figures will likely fuel the popular perception that stricter enforcement of traffic laws is necessary to curb carnage on Qatar’s roads and deter the aggressive and dangerous driving habits of some residents.
There were several high-profile vehicle collisions in October that included a horrific crash caused by a speeding Land Cruiser that smashed into a parked Pathfinder SUV, killing three women, one man and a one-year-old baby.
In addition to such tragic cases, October also saw the highest number of fender-benders and other minor collisions so far this year. There were 603 such incidents in October, up from 545 the previous month.
There were 59 “serious” collisions reported, which is higher than the 36 comparable incidents recorded the month before but still lower than the 66 major accidents in July.
Qatar’s population is growing rapidly, leading to more vehicles on the road and increasing the odds of collisions. Despite this, the number of traffic accident deaths in Qatar has remained relatively stable in recent years.
However, authorities have set a goal of reducing the absolute number of traffic fatalities to 130 by 2022.
In the first 10 months of this year, 174 people have died on the country’s roads.
In recent years, authorities have attempted to make the country’s roads safer through education, public awareness campaigns and road design upgrades, among other measures. Last month, the Qatar Mobility Innovations Center officially launched several mobile apps designed to prevent motorists from using their phones while driving.
However, many residents have said they believe the solution is much simpler: more severe penalties for lawbreakers, and more police officers on the road.
The Ministry of Interior said in 2013 that a new highway patrol force would start operating at some point this year. More recently, Brig. Mohammed Saad Al-Kharji, the director-general of Qatar’s traffic department, told Doha News that an unspecified number of newly trained officers would be on the roads in late November and early December.
Enforcement action in October, however, took a sharp decline. There were 93,054 violations reported during the month, by far the lowest number since such figures started to be released in March.
By comparison, the previous low was 124,230 violations recorded in July. The highest number of violations was recorded in June, when 165,572 incidents were reported.
Here’s a copy of the full statistics report:
Retraction: On Jan. 8, we learned that the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics had omitted a category of traffic violations from its report covering the month of October. By leaving out “other” violations, the report likely understates the number of citations. We’ve asked the ministry for clarification and the correct information, and will update this story as new information becomes available.
Update (Feb. 2): A subsequent ministry report included the missing “other” category of traffic violations. Including the 43,443 “other” violations, there are a total of 136,497 violations in October.