Ian Edelman in Doha

Expat exploits in Qatar

Driving update

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I am fairly certain there is a quite different understanding of road safety in Qatar. I have already reported that driving in Qatar is one of downsides of living here. Not only is it the number of cars on the road, the driving style of many road users but also the mindset that does not seem to encompass the possibility of accident and injury.

Parking accidents

The most frequent accident would appear to be the rear end collision, which also often results in front end damage for the vehicle in front as it is pushed into the vehicle ahead of it. Again roundabouts are a frequent accident black spot hence their gradual replacement with controlled road junctions.

When I arrived, I assumed that talking or texting on a mobile phone was compulsory as almost every other driver appeared to be in communication. Clearly these people all have a much wider social circle than I do and cannot fit these personal conversations into the working day.

I grew up in the pre-seat belt era of motoring, and as a child I sat without restraint on the front seat of my father’s car. The walnut fascia of a 1960s Rover 90 received 2 top incisor marks when my brother hit the shiny wooden surface. My own children were forced into small car seats, then booster seats and finally adults seat belts.

The children in Qatar can, and usually do, roam freely about the vehicle. That includes moving about, standing up and hanging out of the windows or sunroof. I have even seen a boy who was certainly too young to have licence at the wheel of a Landcruiser. It is not unusual to see a child on the lap of the driver. I have no photographic evidence to back up these claims as, of course, it would be dangerous to take pictures whilst driving.

Safety sign

The Qatari government are naturally concerned to improve road safety and existing laws which make all of the current behaviour traffic offences.

Safety awareness signs often appear at road junctions, although the one above has obviously lost something in the translation from Arabic to English. This summer 7,000 baby car seats are being distributed to newborns at the Hamad Hospital as part of a safety initiative.

But until drivers, both local and expat have a better understanding of inherent dangers of driving and a culture of safety is imposed, I doubt that will much will change and that road accidents will remain frequent.

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