On the occasion of ‘World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims’ (WDR), the Traffic Department organised a discussion forum on 16 November 2014 under the title, ‘Pedestrian Safety: Everybody’s Responsibility’, at the headquarters of the Traffic Department in Madinat Khalifa.
Traffic officers, prevention experts from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), road engineering experts and heads of different communities attended the forum.
WDR is commemorated on the third Sunday of November each year – to remember the many millions killed and injured on the world’s roads, together with their families and many others also affected, as well as reflect on the tremendous burden and cost of this daily continuing disaster. Organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system, play a major role to promote the day.
At the pedestrian safety discussion forum, Captain Riyadh Ahmed presented statistics and related information on pedestrian accidents in last years in Qatar. According to Ahmed, 101 pedestrians have died in car accidents in 2013. In 2012, 93 pedestrians were killed in car accidents. Approximately 33% of the road accident fatalities in Qatar are pedestrian. The largest number of pedestrians are killed in the evenings at 60% with 19% of the accidents taking place at the Industrial Area. Nepalese makeup the largest of the pedestrian deaths in Qatar at 30 to 34%, followed by Indians. According to Ahmed, one of the main reasons for high number of pedestrian accidents among expatriates is the difference between traffic conditions and systems in Qatar and their counties. However, a research specialist from Qatar University believes that one of the main reasons for the high number of pedestrian accidents in Qatar is the lack of infrastructure for pedestrians. The university is currently working on studies and research to provide the Traffic Department with ways in which they can improve the infrastructure for pedestrians in the country.
According to the Engineer Siddique Dali from Road Engineering Section at the Traffic Department, working alongside Public Works Authority (Ashghal) and the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning (MMUP), the department is taking many steps to secure roads and develop the infrastructure in order to reduce pedestrian accidents. Under Qatar’s National Plan for Road Safety 2013 – 2022, the Department has installed fences on roads across Doha so to prevent individuals from randomly crossing roads from undesignated areas. Dali states that 267 new pedestrian crossings will be installed in the near future.
Dr Rafel J. Consunji, Director of Hamad Injury Prevention Program at the HMC, gave a presentation on road safety, saying ‘we don’t want see you’, urging individuals to drive and walk carefully to avoid visiting the hospital. According to Dr Consunji, most of pedestrian accidents happen on Thursdays in the evenings between 6 pm to 8 pm, adding that 71% die before arriving to the hospital due to being hit by a car that was excessively speeding. He said:
Excessive speed can kill a pedestrian. They’re not hit once but multiple times.’
According to Dr Consunji, one in eight people die in pedestrian car accidents in Qatar, which is one of the highest statistics in the world. HMC receives two to three child pedestrian accidents in a month. Dr Consunji urges people not to drive more than 30 km per minute in school areas. In addition, he stated that children below the age of 10 should not be allowed to walk alone without guidance. When crossing the street, Dr Consunji says look left first then right then left again. If you’re crossing the street at night, wearing light or flashy clothes is one of the most important factors of avoiding pedestrian accidents.
The Community Outreach Office at Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Interior presented the efforts made by the ministry for traffic awareness for different segments of the community. The Traffic Department organises traffic awareness campaigns, seminars and conferences as well as visits schools, workplaces and construction sites to deliver presentations on traffic awareness.