Though thousands of residents traveled outside of Qatar during the school holidays last month, the number of reported motor vehicle collisions reached its highest level since officials began releasing figures two years ago.
Some 649 incidents were reported in December, according to the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics. That’s up 38 percent over the 470 fender-benders and serious crashes reported at the same time a year earlier.
Over the course of 2015, a total of 5,998 collisions were reported, a 13 percent increase over the 5,325 incidents in 2014 and thus outpacing the growth in the overall population.
The rising number of collisions comes despite a series of campaigns by authorities to encourage motorists to drive more safely.
They include ads aimed at urging residents not to use mobile phones behind the wheel, which officials say is a leading cause of collisions.
Police officers are rarely seen handing out tickets in Qatar, something the country’s top traffic official said will change this year as more officers are hired and trained.
Meanwhile, the country’s public works authority is reportedly analyzing data from recent years to identify where collisions most frequently occur with an eye toward upgrading dangerous roundabouts and stretches of road.
Despite the rising volume of collisions, the number of people who died on Qatar’s roads in 2015 declined to 236, two fewer than the revised total for 2014 published by the ministry late last year.
There were 246 deaths in road accidents in 2013.
Qatar’s National Road Safety Strategy (PDF) sets a goal of reducing the number of fatalities even further to 130 by 2022, despite the rising population.
Traditionally, the most serious collisions in Qatar occur on high-speed rural roads, which lack safety features to help prevent vehicles from running off the road or median separators to avoid head-on collisions, according to the road safety strategy.
Separate research released slightly more than a year ago by Qatar University found that the vast majority of those killed on Qatar’s roads are young men between the ages of 20 and 30 years old with less than four years of driving experience.