Qatar’s Ministry of Interior (MOI) has signed a deal with a Swedish firm for advice on improving driver education, police enforcement and traffic congestion.
As part of the deal, two experts will work with Qatar’s National Traffic Safety Committee to help raise road safety standards, the head of the Swedish National Road Consultancy (SweRoad) said.
The agreement was signed this week by Qatar’s Prime Minister, Sweden’s Ambassador to Qatar Ewa Polano confirmed at a media briefing.
The experts come from the Swedish government road research institute VTI and will study crash data and fatal accidents, among other things.
“We are looking at a series of transfer-of-knowledge exercises so we can bring the Swedish competence to the (Qatar) team. They will identify any gaps and give ideas for the future to improve plans,” Jonas Hermanson, managing director of SweRoad said.
SweRoad is a state-owned consultancy that advises authorities across the world on the Zero Vision model of road safety reform that Sweden adopted in 1997.
Since then, Sweden’s roads have become the safest in the world. Some 3 out of 100,000 Swedes die annually as a result of traffic accidents compared to 7.4/100,000 in Qatar last year.
The consultancy has been working with the Qatar government in recent years to reduce the number of fatal and serious traffic incidents.
In addition to designing new and existing roads to include safety features, the program also promotes on education and law enforcement.
But getting drivers to cut their speed is one of the biggest contributors to safer roads, Hermanson said.
“Speed is a major component of crashes. If you drive at a low speed and crash, nothing too bad happens.
“We have to deal with speed, we have to deal with seat belts and we have to deal with behavior. Changing behavior happens through enforcement, and education,” Hermanson said when asked about the challenges to road safety in Qatar.
Some Swedish firms have already been collaborating with Qatar authorities to get motorists to slow down.
For example, Sensys Gatso has recently installed 46 new high-tech speed radars on routes across the country.
The gray column radars sit in the road median and can detect traffic traveling in both directions. They can also show which lane the driver was in and the size of vehicle.
In addition to speeding, they can record tail-gating and reversing on the highway, said Mohammad Vadiee from KTC International – the Dubai-based firm responsible for installing them.
However, only 32 of the 46 radars are actually operational, while the rest are dummies.
“The whole point is to raise awareness, just to reduce speeds,” Vadiee added.
Sensys Gatso also conducted a three-month trial in which radars were hidden inside unmarked cars to record passing vehicles’ speeds.
The pilot study, which took place over the summer in Qatar, was successful, Vadiee said.
He added that the firm was “hopeful” of signing a contract for up to 10 of these units during the military and defense expo Milipol at the end of this month.
“Drivers don’t know when they are going to get found out, so they just give up (on speeding),” he said.
Meanwhile, some 15 large-screen dynamic LED boards are being erected on key routes across Qatar to give drivers real-time information.
They flash reminders about the speed limit, give messages on road conditions and warnings of congestion or any diversions ahead.
By providing current information, they aim to reduce the frustration that often results in reckless driving.
Four have already gone up, including on Salwa Road and Al Waab St. Two more are expected in the coming days, and the rest over the following weeks, Vadiee told Doha News.