The “Accident-free summer” campaign launched by the Ministry of Interior six weeks ago has been highlighting the ministry’s interest in ensuring the safety and security of drivers and pedestrians and their property, and reducing the number of deaths and injuries resulting from traffic accidents.
Through its organised campaigns and the implementation of its strategy of traffic safety, the ministry seeks to raise awareness about the common traffic violations and enhance the knowledge of road users in order to further reduce accidents.
It is well known that traffic problems are not linked to a particular country; it is a problem that all countries of the world suffer from.
They are constantly worsening despite the efforts made to reduce them, and their danger lies in the fact that they leave behind millions of victims along with psychological and social consequences.
World Health Organisation figures says that nearly 1.3mn people die in road crashes each year globally, adding that they cause between 20mn and 50mn non-fatal injuries.
Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds.
In the Gulf region, the figures showed that the Gulf states incur annual losses of more than $19bn as a result of road accidents, which represents 3.7% of the total global losses.
Their mortality rate tops the list globally, reaching 24 cases per 100,000 people.
These figures are a major concern for these countries, which suffer from scarcity of population and rely heavily on expatriate labour.
With the huge economic boom in Qatar over the past two decades and the large population increase in record time as a result of rising numbers of expatriate workers, the traffic situation has become a concern for the Ministry of Interior and a challenge that must be dealt with in a systematic and thoughtful manner.
With a forward-looking vision, Qatar has adopted a comprehensive framework to ensure a secure transport system for all road users, taking into account all the latest developments and challenges.
The first steps to institutionalise the government’s efforts to control the traffic situation and to stop deaths and waste of public and private property was the issuance of the Traffic Law of 2007, which significantly reduced traffic accidents and deaths and injuries.
In this context, official statistics showed that the traffic law was the starting point for the continuous success.
The death rate of traffic accidents decreased from 16.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2006 (one year before the implementation of the law) to 14.6 cases in the following year.
The rate was more than 23 deaths in 2005.
The rate of traffic accidents and injuries resulting from these incidents at all levels decreased as well.
The formation of the National Committee for Traffic Safety in 2010, under the chairmanship of HE the Minister of Interior, was to strengthen this campaign, respond to developments in the country in various fields, and develop a deliberate and orderly framework to manage traffic shared by all stakeholders in the State.
The committee is responsible for developing policies and plans in the field of traffic and developing it, studying the problems related to it, proposing solutions, and initiating co-ordination and co-operation between the various actors working on the proper regularity and traffic flow.
The committee is also interested in proposing the development of legislation related to traffic and road and transport engineering, in accordance with international standards and in line with the requirements of the continuous development of roads and transport, and other related topics.
The committee, which includes representatives from a number of ministries and agencies in the country, is making a great effort to co-ordinate efforts and mobilise support for the Ministry of Interior’s directives to reduce traffic accidents.
These efforts culminated in the launch of the National Strategy for Traffic Safety in 2013, which seeks to reduce traffic accident victims, decrease the number of deaths resulting from these accidents to six cases per 100,000 people, as well as reduce the number of hazardous injuries resulting from them.
The figures show that Qatar reached the target in record time, the road accident mortality rate decreased from 14 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013 to 5.4 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, a figure lower than the national traffic safety strategy of 6 deaths per 100,000 population until 2022.
This rate is well below the global average of 17.4 deaths per 100,000 people and in high-income countries of 9.2 per 100,000 people, despite the high number of vehicles and drivers in the country.
Qatar leads the Gulf region and the region in general traffic safety.
In continuation of these successes, the Ministry of Interior launched the Second Implementation Plan 2018-2022 for the National Strategy for Traffic Safety, which benefited from the results of the comprehensive evaluation of the first operational plan.
It absorbed the new challenges, strengthened the community partnership, and tightened the mechanisms of monitoring the commitment to implement the projects covered by the plan for the five years covered by the strategy.
The Ministry of Interior has said on more than one occasion that the second operational plan for traffic safety 2018-2022 is a road map to reduce the number of traffic accidents and address the consequences of human suffering resulting from them in accordance with the requirements of sustainable development and Qatar Vision 2030.
The implementation of the second plan was done by more than 32 stakeholders compared with 13 in the first phase, and work plans were increased by more than 450 plans compared to 198 in the first phase.
The plan also took into account the highest degree of co-operation between the bodies of the government sector, the private sector, civil society organisations and all segments of society in the implementation of projects and the promotion of efforts to achieve road safety and traffic security.
The plan adopted an approach to avoid traditional operational practices and encourage the adoption of effective initiatives through the development of desired objectives that are commensurate with the country’s growth and the challenges it faces.
One of the most important objectives of the second phase of the road safety strategy is to reduce road traffic deaths by 50 % (to 130 deaths in 2022), reduce the number of cases to 400, and implement the United Nations sustainable development goals for sustainable cities by building road and transport networks and adopting an unconventional planning system.
The second phase aims to reduce congestion by 5% per year, reduce infant mortality to 17% of total deaths by 2022 (32% in 2016), and begin implementing the UN sustainable development goals related to congestion reduction, urban planning and networks roads and transportation, improving traffic safety, and linking improved traffic safety with economic growth, national security and population policy.
The strategy also seeks to develop a system of traffic awareness based on modern scientific principles, and implement targeted programs that lead to measurable results and contribute to the achievement of the objectives of the strategy.
The Ministry of Interior is betting on its vision of road safety and on the commitment of all concerned parties to translate the objectives of the National Strategy for Traffic Safety into practical projects over the next five years.
There is no doubt that what has been achieved during the first phase of the achievements of traffic exceeded expectations is mainly due to the success of various parties to meet the contents and terms of the strategy.
The sixth Forum of the Stakeholder Co-ordinators of the National Road Safety Strategy held last May revealed the successes achieved by the various sectors, especially those related to the health sector, the transport sector and other sectors directly related to traffic safety.
The forum revealed in numbers the great development of ambulance services, transportation of injured, emergency services and medical and nursing response, such as providing Air ambulance and high quality care services around the clock in emergency departments and reducing the incidence of disability due to accidents through the establishment of Qatar Rehabilitation Center, which is considered as largest specialised hospital in the region.
In the transport sector (through the Ministry of Transport and Communications), there has been a qualitative shift in the projects assigned to it within the framework of the National Road Safety Strategy such as the launching of the state road design manual and Qatar traffic control manual, and the launch of the comprehensive pedestrian crossing plan in Qatar, which is a comprehensive integrated plan that takes into account the rights of all road users such as motorists, pedestrians, cyclists and people with special needs and contributes to saving lives and property by reducing the number of deaths caused by accidents, to be one of the most important elements and components of the national strategy for traffic safety.
The road sector also witnessed important achievements, including the development of a comprehensive road safety monitoring system, accident analysis and road asset information project, as well as the development of temporary traffic management guidelines, road safety assessments and the development of maintenance standards in Qatar.
Ashghal has successfully completed the field survey to detect Assets and street elements, as well as a number of projects related to roads, pedestrian and bicycle paths, as well as security and safety plans during and after school entry throughout the country.
In the same context, the Ministry of Interior’s partnerships with several ministries, institutions, companies and civil society organisations, as well as the councils of communities living in Qatar, have played a role in maximising these achievements and accelerating the achievement of an important part of the objectives of the National Strategy for Traffic Safety.
The Ministry of Interior is betting on maintaining this great momentum of co-operation and partnership during the next phase in hope of achieving the vision that everyone aspires to become the most advanced country in the field of roads, transport and traffic safety.
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