Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Hamad Trauma Center is advising road users to take extra precautions and to be ‘shrewd’ during times of low visibility or foggy weather conditions.

Dr. Rafael Consunji, Director of the Hamad Injury Prevention Program (HIPP), the community outreach arm of HMC’s Trauma Surgery Section, said:

We are calling on road users to ensure their own safety by taking appropriate precautions during low visibility conditions, which are most common during early mornings and evenings. Due to ongoing road construction around the county, there are constant changes to road layouts and traffic flow, so commuters should be more aware of their surroundings and be extra conscious of other road users.’

Last year, the Ministry of Interior reported 113 motor vehicle crashes on one particularly foggy day in January. There has been an intensified effort to prevent a repeat this year and the HIPP is recommending all road users be ‘SHREWD’. Road users are urged to:

S – Slow down and wear your seatbelt

Driving during fog can be likened to driving with a blindfold. It is driving without seeing your surroundings and other road users, pedestrians, cyclists, or vehicles. This is why slowing down is the first thing to do in fog. It will allow you to avoid obstacles and braking without notice. In the event of a crash or a sudden stop, passengers and drivers using a seatbelt dramatically reduce their risk of serious injury or death and allow their airbags to protect them optimally.’

H – Turn on your headlights

In low visibility conditions, one must do their utmost to be seen by other road users. Turning on the vehicle’s headlights to low beam is one way to ensure this is achieved. A common error is to turn on emergency flashers or hazard lights to increase visibility. Don’t use the emergency flashers or hazard lights unless you are pulling off the road to park your vehicle, which you should do if visibility is decreasing rapidly or if dense fog reduces visibility. If you use your flashers, you are not able to use your signal lights to warn others of your planned turns or lane changes.

R – Wear reflectors or high visibility gear

Wearing high visibility clothing such as reflective vests or bright colors, or attaching a light to your bicycle or carrying a torch or flashlight will make a pedestrian or cyclist more noticeable in low-visibility conditions.

E – Expect delays and give yourself a head start

Speeding and reckless driving in low visibility conditions increases the chance of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. Starting your journey earlier will enable you to arrive in a timely manner and without speeding.

W – Clear all windows and keep them partially rolled down

Make sure your windows and mirrors are clean before your trip, and use your defroster and wipers to keep them clear. For faster defogging, use the air conditioner with the temperature set to ‘hot’. This will also clear condensation from windows. Open your windows during times of very low visibility so you can hear oncoming vehicles. This is particularly useful in rural areas or on minor roads with less traffic.

D – Distractions must be avoided

Low-visibility conditions demand that a driver be able to use all of his/her senses. Avoid distractions such as mobile phones or the stereo so you can pay full attention to the road conditions.

Being ‘SHREWD’, particularly during times of low visibility, will make Qatar’s roads safer during the foggy months ahead.