Traffic Law No 19 of 2007 introduced a system of tough penalties for traffic offences. They include points and fines for speeding, parking violations and using a hand‑held phone while driving. These, and other measures for road traffic safety, are a priority for the government as part of Qatar National Road Safety Strategy 2013–2022.
The second five-year plan (2018–2022) was launched buoyed by the successful conclusion of the first five-year plan (2013–2017) of the Strategy, which saw the number of deaths on the roads reduced from 235 in 2013 to 178 in 2016.
The main causes of road accidents continue to be reckless and negligent driving, dangerous overtaking, illogical lane changing (especially at intersections), and using the phone while driving.
Road rage is a constant in Qatar. Motorists are warned to be aware of drivers ‘tailgating’ and flashing their lights to force the driver ahead to move out of the way, even if there is no space to safely move into. Drivers change lanes without signalling and often weave through the traffic, continuously changing lanes at high speed. You may experience bullying tactics including overtaking from the right and then slowing down as a ‘punishment’ to the driver who failed to move out of the way. In any of these situations, be aware of your own safety.
Traffic lights flash on green before changing to amber and red. At the few roundabouts remaining in the country, signals will often flash amber for a short period of time to allow the flow of traffic – drivers should only pull out if it is safe to do so.
Cameras and radars are installed at intersections to catch those who race through red lights. The installation of many more is planned, including sophisticated advanced radar systems which allow for the recording of accidents and booking of reckless drivers.
The police have a number of cars fitted with mobile speed radars – difficult for motorists to locate, unlike permanent roadside speed radars.In addition to speeding, the radars can also detect seatbelt violations, overtaking from the wrong side, and illegal usage of mobile phones.
The Ministry of Interior stresses that its aim in deploying these mobile radars is to reform bad driving practices, thereby saving lives, and not simply to punish offenders.
Traffic Law No 19 of 2007 introduced a demerit point system which helps to ensure safe driving (by curbing reckless driving) and to reduce traffic related accidents, deaths and casualties. Drivers convicted of certain driving-related offences will have what are termed ‘black points’ recorded on their records.
The Ministry’s website moi.gov.qa lists the violations, which include paperwork and registration offences, driving offences, wrongful parking or obstruction, and many dealing with commercial vehicles.
Some of the fines are draconian, like running a red traffic light. However, in some cases, if you pay within a month you may get a 50% discount – you can either visit the Traffic Department or use the Metrash2 app to check if this is applicable.
The points system means that your licence can be suspended or revoked, depending on the number of points accrued. In this situation, a new driving licence may be issued only after passing a new driving test after a minimum three months of suspension.
Always carry your driving licence and passport copy/Qatar ID with you while driving, as well as the vehicle registration, insurance documents, and car rental agreement (as appropriate).
Some of the more common violations include:
- Running a red light – QAR6,000 fine, 7 points
- Driving in the wrong (opposite) direction – QAR6,000 fine, 6 points
- Driver and/or front seat passenger not wearing seatbelts – QAR500 fine
- Using/holding a mobile phone/other device while driving – QAR500 fine
- Allowing children under 10 to occupy front seats – QAR500 fine
- Exceeding the maximum speed limit – QAR500–1,000 fine, 4 points
- Obstructing traffic at intersections – QAR500 fine, 3 points
- Parking/waiting at places reserved for persons with special needs – QAR300 fine, 3 points
- Driving a vehicle without carrying driving licence – QAR500 fine, 1 point
- Driving a vehicle without a valid permit (istimara) – QAR1,500 fine
- Driving a vehicle without number plates – QAR3,000 fine, 3 points
- Not moving vehicle to nearest safe area in case of an accident not involving injury, or not informing police immediately – QAR1,000 fine, 3 points
- Applying tint to glass or windows of vehicle without permission – QAR1,000
To check violations registered to your vehicle, visit moi.gov.qa, or receive SMS alerts via Metrash2.