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Monday, August 2, 2021

Qatar’s CMC calls for blocked cell phone calls in moving vehicles

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

Mandatory mobile phone jammers fitted to all cars in the GCC and an awareness campaign persuading motorists to give way to ambulances are among the suggestions aired by elected officials in a bid improve discipline and safety on Qatar’s roads.

Following its latest bi-weekly meeting, Qatar’s Central Municipal Council (CMC) made a series of recommendations to address the state’s record of road safety as the number of traffic accidents continues to climb in tandem with the rising population.

The officials called for all vehicles in the GCC to be fitted with technology that would automatically disable the phone-calling features on mobile phones while the vehicle is moving, Gulf Times reports.

While the CMC’s recommendations are advisory and do not carry legislative power, they do serve to publicly raise what is a serious issue for Qatar.

Bearing in mind the costs involved in fitting such a system in all cars in the region, it is unlikely that vehicle manufacturers will take up the suggestion unless it is becomes a requirement by multiple Gulf states.

However, it follows the launch last year by a local company of several apps which can lock a motorist’s mobile phone while they are driving.

Qatar Mobility Innovations Center (QMIC) has developed a number of apps over recent years as part of its Salamtek initiative. The software locks a cell phone when a vehicle is moving above a certain speed, logging missed calls and messages and sending automatic replies to those calling a Salamtek-locked phone.

QMIC chief executive Adnan Abu-Dayya told Doha News today that the concept of using jammers in cars to block phone use while driving is commonly discussed but, to the best of his knowledge, has never been widely implemented.

Some of the technical challenges include its inherent complexity, spectrum “pollution” as it competes with other wireless technologies as well as its potential to interfere with the legitimate use of mobile phones by passengers.

However, Abu-Dayya said he expects newer technologies and capabilities aimed at reducing distracted driving will be added to vehicles in the coming years, although new regulations or incentives may be required to ensure broad adoption.

Accidents

In November last year, QMIC announced it a partnership with the Ministry of Interior‘s Traffic Department and other parties, who are working together to tackle distracted driving, which is one of the top causes of road accidents in Qatar.

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

In November, 25 people died in traffic accidents which was the highest figure since April last year, when 29 people perished on Qatar’s roads.

It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in Qatar and could those caught could incur a QR500 fine. While the Traffic Department has in the past launched campaigns in a bid to encourage people to voluntarily stop the practice, critics say they require greater enforcement.

Mindful of this, the director-general of Qatar’s traffic department, Brig. Mohammed Saad Al-Kharji, promised at the end of last year that there would be more patrols on the roads, in cars and on foot at major intersections, to catch those breaking the law.

Ambulance awareness

Another key issue raised by the CMC was for the start of a public awareness campaign about the need for drivers to give way to ambulances at traffic signals.

Particularly at peak times, it is not uncommon to see ambulances stuck in traffic, despite having their lights and sirens on.

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

The CMC recommendation follows the Help Us Help You initiative undertaken by Hamad Medical Corp. (HMC), which runs the ambulance service, in 2013 to improve public understanding of the need to make way for ambulances in emergency situations.

It comes as HMC is rolling out specialist technology in emergency vehicles which will transmit a signal to change the traffic lights several hundred meters ahead of them, in critical situations.

The state health organization is working in conjunction with public works authority Ashghal which is installing smart traffic lights at key intersections across Qatar to respond to this technology.

So far 80 intersections have the system, including those on C-Ring Road, Al Matar Street, D-Ring Road, The Corniche and Majlis Al Taawon Street.

It is expected that more will be installed as Ashghal undertakes an extensive upgrade of Qatar’s major routes.

Thoughts?

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Gareth Walters
Gareth Walters
6 years ago

So does this mean that if I am a passenger in a car I will not be able to use my phone while someone else is driving?

I cant really see much merit in a system such as this, surely the best way to fight this problem is the same way that has been successful in the rest of the world: zero tolerance policing combined with aggressive education/public service campaign.

Scarletti
Scarletti
6 years ago
Reply to  Gareth Walters

it does seem unfair, but its a small price to pay to tackle a problem which social consciousness has failed to address

CeePeeEm
CeePeeEm
6 years ago
Reply to  Gareth Walters

Yes, just enforce existing rules. When I wait at any intersection in red signal, I watch those drivers who are going in their green signal; at least 25% of them are talking on the phone. It is not at all hard to find out the offenders. Just keep cops at the intersections and it will be a bumper harvest for them.

Mike
Mike
6 years ago
Reply to  CeePeeEm

This would generate more income to the economy than oil & gas combined.

Asinine Thinker
Asinine Thinker
6 years ago
Reply to  Mike

You sir are a genius, you just found THE alternative source of income for the State of Qatar.

Rifky
Rifky
6 years ago

What will happen if I pass red signal to give way for Ambulance?

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Rifky

you will get flashed, but then you go down to the traffic department and explain the situation, they will look at a video see what happened and remove the fine. be sure to remember the exact time and place

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago

I agree with your assessment, but that’s the problem though. Who is going to move through an intersection for an ambulance knowing that they’ll have the hassle of going to the traffic department to get the fine erased (and encountering the chance, however small, that it won’t be erased)?

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Chilidog

i did. i would like to think most people would rather go to the traffic department or even risk a fine, than stop an ambulance from getting to a person in need of medical attention

Michael Fryer
Michael Fryer
6 years ago

In the thread regarding taxi drivers it is stated that taxi drivers are not given the ability to challenge traffic violations. If that’s the case why would they risk a 6,000Qar fine to help an ambulance get through a red signal?

Mohammed Albanai
Mohammed Albanai
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael Fryer

im unaware of any law or rule that prevents cab drivers from challenging violations, but assuming that is true then at the very least the company should be given the right to challenge. they could hire a representative who just goes to the traffic department for these things. that would probably be a full time job

Bo
Bo
6 years ago

I would like to think that too… but i don’t believe they would – too many aggressive drivers only looking out for themselves – i bet half of the bad ones would even flash an ambulance (with blues and twos) to get out the way because its travelling to slow.

Chilidog
Chilidog
6 years ago

Good for you. I agree that I’d like to think that people would do that. But realistically, observing how most people are driving around Doha, I honestly doubt most people would. Unfortunately I see just as many people tailgating ambulances through tight traffic as I see people getting out of their way.

BigDaddyDK
BigDaddyDK
6 years ago

It would make sense to put some kind of a signal emitter on an ambulance and a receiver on a light that notifies the system that an emergency vehicle is there to make the light change or to stop the flashing of car plates temporarily. Unfortunately, there will be those who figure it out and retrofit their vehicles with a similar device to change lights/stop the cameras.

ThePattern
ThePattern
6 years ago

now matter how technologically advanced this initiative is, some will still find a way to go around this measure. Traffic police visibility on major roads i think is the best deterrent against the use of phones while driving plus no matter how many laws are made regarding road safety if there is no VISIBLE enforcer, its a waste of time.

Ben
Ben
6 years ago

Just won’t work. As mentioned, what about the cars passengers? The system would have to register each car owners numbers to book just theirs, then what if someone else drives said car…. Also how will the system know you have safely pulled over? By turning engine off? You could so the same at traffic lights to make a call! Also what if someone is trying to get hold of you in the event of an emergency? We know with the traffic, it could be hours until someone gets hold of you!
Spend the money on my police and traffic cams with a control centre where they can catch offenders that way, far easier than getting police to pull everyone over.

mike bowden
mike bowden
6 years ago

JUST ENFORCE THE PRESENT RULES – PROPERLY !! how easy can it be. Put police on the roads who have teeth and determination to do their job. Stop Wasda wiping out any fine imposed on certain people. again I say enforce the present rules vigorously, things would change.
Still waiting to see ANY road police in any part of this country, been talked about for more than one year now – loads of traffic police cars just cruising around but NEVER stopping offenders, who blatantly break multiple rules alongside police cars.

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  mike bowden

Yes indeed !!. The rules are in place and they need to be enforced instead of coming up with more new rules and gadgets that will make the situation more confusing then it already is at the moment

Uglymost
Uglymost
6 years ago
Reply to  mike bowden

Come on the police cars stop near the sandwitch and juice stalls.

Althani
Althani
6 years ago
Reply to  Uglymost

They are like the donuts of American police lol

BigDaddyDK
BigDaddyDK
6 years ago
Reply to  mike bowden

Watch the police too and see that they violate the laws just the same. But, I agree with you that wasta needs to be eliminated from the justice system.

Deepak Babu
Deepak Babu
6 years ago

Technology should be used to supplement and assist your human resources. Not do their work for them. Hire more traffic police and empower them to enforce the rules.

Cerebus
Cerebus
6 years ago

The cameras currently used can also capture images of people on cell phones or texting while driving. Just a matter of software. This ensures only drivers being ticketed and allows for use of hands free without concern.

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago

Mandatory mobile phone jammers… this will never happen, those suggesting it definitely know that as well, it’s just headline grabbing recommendation that people will soon forget about

yesjay
yesjay
6 years ago

Just raise the penalty from 500 to 5000..I’m sure not even half of those violators will dare to use a phone while driving without a second thought, but then I might be totally wrong!

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago
Reply to  yesjay

QAR 50,000 would be better. Educate the people.

Asinine Thinker
Asinine Thinker
6 years ago

While we are at it, why not make it 5 quintillion Qatari Riyals?

Andrew Newnham
Andrew Newnham
6 years ago

Enforce the rules and fit the mobile phone jammers in the cinemas.

Ali El Ali
Ali El Ali
6 years ago

Bluetooth !!!!!!!! no one uses it. All the super cars , ordinary cars and money provided and no one uses it !!!

Jaded
Jaded
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali El Ali

I use it, and I’m always surprised that it’s not more popular

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  Jaded

because for many people it is hard to connect the mobile to the brain before than to the Bluetooth!

fullmoon07
fullmoon07
6 years ago
Reply to  Ali El Ali

I use it! Very handy!

Coco
Coco
6 years ago

I would go even further and block mobile coverage altogether…I kinda’ miss the land lines 🙂

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
6 years ago

Enforce the present law which says it is illegal to use a phone whilst driving!!! What is so hard about this? I know sound my horn loudly when I see another driver blithely motoring along in the 3rd lane texting, it’s just unbelievable. If I can see a dozen a day, why aren’t the police seeing them?
More lives would be saved by enforcing the seat belt laws, particularly regarding Children. The brain dead idiot in the 4×4 behind me in a queue of traffic had 3 small children climbing around between front and back, oblivious to the fact he was putting them in danger. Just Enforce the B****y Laws!!!!

Abdulwahab
Abdulwahab
6 years ago

Mandatory phone call jammers and specialist applications are a sad phenomenon that appears like a last resort attempt upon a populous that isn’t prepared to lean. In every single car journey i make (no matter how small) i see at least 2 or 3 people driving with their mobiles in their hands.

The matter can be resolved with efficient policing. I see drivers (locals, expats, male and female) drive with their phones in their hands sending messages (which is more dangerous than making a call) all the time. What is worse is that i have seen them do it while crossing a roundabout where a traffic warden in managing the traffic.

In my opinion if you implement a 6 month long campaign with traffic officers tasked with stopping and throwing heavy fines on EVERYONE using a mobile phone should have a strong effect. Then think about the jammers

AEC
AEC
6 years ago

Jam them and jam them now. Nobody seems to be able to follow rules.

bleh!!
bleh!!
6 years ago

this is just another way to show that they have enough money and are just lazy to strengthen their laws! and want technology to work as they want! i guess someone is just sitting simply and getting bored too much!
every single day i see people [indians, arabs, europeans americans everyone] on the road driving while messaging and talking on the phone. till now i have not seen one traffic police provide a ticket to any of these people. i have bluetooth connectivity on my vehicle which i use. why can’t these people in vehicles such as nissan patrols, land cruisers and other vehicles use bluetooth to connect to their phones? not to say that it is becoming an almost standard feature in all vehicles. even the low end vehicles can be fitted with a blutooth connectivity if you can afford to but the players which can be fixed in the center consoles.
and about that salamtek app. the app allows a person to enable 3 apps which don’t have to be blocked. if one chooses Phone, Messaging & Whatsapp not to be blocked the whole point of the salamtek app is lost. please note that i used it when it was released. and once i discovered it was like this i deleted it. and since then i have not used it. please do correct me if i’m wrong.
also if all cars are installed with cell phone jammers wouldn’t it also jam the emergency calls?????

yesjay
yesjay
6 years ago

Unless it’s proven other way, “You can lead a horse to water, but can’t make it drink”. Obey the rules, else face the music (of consequences).

Catalea
Catalea
6 years ago
Reply to  yesjay

nicely said my friend, nicely said.

The Reporter
The Reporter
6 years ago

How does the jamming app work? Can’t be GPS because I could just turn off the GPS on my phone? Or is it by the telephone signal which would have to pulse a lot more to your phone to track it than it does now?

Anonymous
Anonymous
6 years ago
Reply to  The Reporter

To jam the phone, there is no need to install any app. The jammer itself is a small auxiliary device, which is sending out meaningless signals on the frequency of the mobile phones, causing loss of contact between the phone and the tower.

I can welcome this kind of solution, since majority of the drivers have no willingness to follow tthe rules, they have to be forced to get off their phones. It’s a minor drawback for the greater good.

BigDaddyDK
BigDaddyDK
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Put the devices in and they will be circumvented in no time. Have a friend who told of jammers being installed in a university to stop incessant calling and texting (mostly to the maids waiting outside to carry books — not kidding) during class time. Within days, students were coming in with satellite phones instead.

SLICK
SLICK
6 years ago

There are3 ways to STOP people from talking on their phones and driving. One, increase traffic police to actually stop violators, two, increase the fine to 5,000 riyals for the 1st offence and 10,000 riyals for the second offence, and three, suspend the violators driving privileges for a MINIMUM of 30 days the 1st offence and 6 months for the second offence. This HAS to be Heavy Handed and across the board from Qatari’s to Expats.

greylag
greylag
6 years ago

If you want to mandate something, go Bluetooth. One of the best safety devices in cars since the seat belt.

Huzz
Huzz
6 years ago

I am really fed up reading this same rubbish month after month. Forget all this tech bs and just enforce the current laws. Truth is that the gov has no desire and no will to do so. I actually don’t care anymore. I always felt bad when i saw kids playing in cars unrestrained but now I just think – not my kids I don’t care. If people are that stupid then they bring the outcome on themselves.

BigDaddyDK
BigDaddyDK
6 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

It won’t change until it affects someone significant. That’s how the draconian fines for going through red lights came into existence.

carlsburg
carlsburg
6 years ago

Blaming mobile phones is a sophomoric approach, seek out the root of the problem. Begin buy enforcing the current laws and regulations. Adding rules and laws does nothing without meaningful enforcement. New laws are as hollow as current driving laws without respect brought about by proper law enforcement. Let’s see law enforcement setting an example, no sms’ing while driving, no mobile calls while driving, no weaving through traffic and while setting along a road heads up faces buried in a mobiles sms’ing does nothing to enforce current laws.

While law enforcement is going through a maturing process, determine the demographics of those most likely to be the causative factor in accidents. Focus on those at the root of the problem. Once the demographics have been determined begin by addressing the entitlement attitude which further leads to dangerous driving habits. Once law enforcement achieves a civilized level of maturity, empower them to cite, suspend driving privileges, arrest and impound Land Cruisers, along with their drives and occupants. Yes, the occupants. The inclusion of occupants will encourage occupants to speak out against dangerous aggressive driving.

When there is a coordinated law enforcement drive to enforce laws and rules, then and only then will the number of deaths reach a level commensurate with a civilized society.

Altaf Patel
Altaf Patel
6 years ago

Hahaha. My 3 years old daughter will ask that what about passenger than…! Hatsoff to our intellectual philosopher.

Diego
Diego
6 years ago

Right idea,wrong approach.Hard to manage and then you would have issues such as emergency calls and who knows what else.Education/actually do spot checks and enforce things and then work on students/children to get after parents while in car. Personally I’d sooner spend money on a mobile zapper and give to police so when they saw someone using mobile,zap it and get it over with.Check the news for Yukon,Canada, some nutjob there won a court challenge by finding a loophole saying it was not illegal to hold a mobile between your ear and hand.

DJ25Q
DJ25Q
6 years ago

Really?
I bet those who proposed that are splitting the profit with the supplier. There will always be a way around, sooner or later. What amazes me the most is that drivers are smart enough to squeeze themselves in tight spots, swerving lanes where almost impossible, drive with millimeters behind your bumper with high beams blinding your eyes without hitting you…and yet too dump to pair a phone using Bluetooth, which puts them passing the driving test in question.

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