Driving Safely in Qatar How to increase your safety on the roads and in the roundabouts.
Driving in Qatar According to the U.S. State Department: • Traffic accidents are Qatar’s leading cause of death. • Safety regulations in Qatar are not consistent with U.S. standards, and informal rules of the road and local customs often prove frustrating for first-time visitors. • The combination of Qatar’s extensive use of roundabouts, many road construction projects and the high speeds at which many drivers travel can prove challenging. • Despite aggressive driving on Qatar’s roads, drivers should avoid altercations or arguments over traffic incidents, particularly with Qatari citizens who, if insulted, have filed complaints with local police that resulted in the arrest and overnight detention of U.S. citizens. • Drivers can be held liable for injuries to other persons involved in a vehicular accident, and local police have detained U.S. citizens overnight until the extent of the person’s injuries were known.
Aggressive Driving What is aggressive driving?
Aggressive Driving Aggressive driving includes: • Speeding, which often leads to following too closely. • Frequent or abrupt lane changes without signaling, passing on the shoulder or unpaved portions of the roadway. • Harassing motorists who just happen to not get out of the way. • Running stop signs and red lights. • Passing stopped school buses. • Failing to keep right. • Other forms of reckless driving You will see examples of this everyday while driving around Qatar.
Road Rage Aggressive driving can lead to “Road Rage”. Road rage is a term used to refer to violent behavior by a driver of an automobile, which thus causes accidents or incidents on roadways
Road Rage Road Rage can include: Stopping a vehicle at the side of the road, and getting out of it to threaten, frighten, attack, fight or hurt another motorist or passenger, or a pedestrian, cyclist, or other person. Verbal provocations, such as yelling, cursing, excessive horn honking, rude or obscene gestures and threats. Driving actions, such as cutting off another vehicle, extremely close tailgating, blocking another vehicle from using a traffic lane, pursuing or chasing another vehicle, or running it off the road, deliberate ramming or bumping of another vehicle.
What can you do… • Avoid eye contact. • Stay calm and relaxed. • Make every attempt to get out of the way safely. Do not escalate the situation. • Do not challenge an aggressive driver by speeding up or attempting to hold your position in your travel lane. • Wear a seat belt and encourage your passengers to do the same.
What can you do… • Ignore harassing gestures and name calling, and do not return them. Not only will this behavior most likely escalate the danger of the situation, it can get you arrested. • Consider reporting aggressive drivers to the appropriate law enforcement authorities by providing a vehicle description, location, license plate number, and direction of travel. • If you are being followed by an aggressive or threatening driver, do not stop or get out of your vehicle. Drive directly to the nearest police station or other location where you know you will be safe. • If an aggressive driver is involved in a crash, stop a safe distance from the crash scene. When the police arrive, report the driving behavior you witnessed.
And… Don’t think that it is your ABSOLUTE right to have the “right of way”. Be prepared to give up the right-of-way to avoid an accident. Is trading your safety or the safety of others for the sake of pride really worth it????
Roundabouts A roundabout is a type of road junction at which traffic enters a stream around a central island after first yielding (giving way) to the circulating traffic. Unfortunately that is not always the case! Under normal circumstances, the intent of a roundabout is to make intersections safer and more efficient. Roundabouts move traffic through an intersection without the use of traffic signals.
Driving through Roundabouts Defensive driving is the key ! • When entering the roundabout, yield to the traffic already in the roundabout. • Be aware of other drivers in the roundabout. Be alert to drivers entering and exiting. Constantly watch the cars on either side of you. A car may cut in front of you without notice. • Always make sure as you prepare to exit the roundabout that the car waiting to enter has yielded to you. On occasion, a car will enter the roundabout without slowing and cut off the car that is crossing over to exit. • If you cannot safely exit the roundabout at the point you want to, don’t panic, drive around again and catch the exit the second time.
Lane Guidelines When approaching a multi-lane roundabout, drivers must choose the appropriate lane based on their intention to go right, left or straight. To go left at the roundabout, approach it from the left lane and follow the roundabout to your exit. Use your right turning signal just before turning off to alert others of your intent. To go straight through the roundabout, approach it from the center lane and follow the roundabout to your exit. Use your right turning signal just before turning off to alert others of your intent. To make a right hand turn, approach the roundabout in the right hand lane. Use your right turning signal to alert others of your intent
Turn your signal on at this point as you approach your exit to alert other cars waiting to enter of your intention.
Emergency Vehicles Always pull over for an emergency vehicle! If you have not yet entered the roundabout, pull over to the right as soon as you can to allow the emergency vehicle to pass. If possible, try not to stop inside the roundabout, instead continue to your exit and then pull over to the right allowing the emergency vehicle to pass. But if you must stop to let the emergency vehicle pass – exercise extreme caution!
Heavy Duty Trucks and Construction Vehicles Be aware that large trucks going through a roundabout may straddle two driving lanes. Never drive adjacent to or pass a truck in a roundabout. It is much easier for you to see them, than for them to see you. Watch large trucks closely! Even though they enter the roundabout from the right lane they may not exit immediately but go straight through. Always yield to them and look for their turning signals.
Penalties and Fines Penalties and fines are getting tougher every day! Be aware of the Qatari driving regulations and make sure to follow them. Do not assume the lack of police “pulling over” vehicles for violating the law is an indication that enforcement is non-existent. Qatar has speed radars on highways throughout Doha that are capable of photographing your license plate and in some instances the driver. Uniformed and plain clothes officers have been known to be setting in roundabouts and along the highway documenting the license plate numbers of vehicles violating traffic regulations.
Important Links Traffic Violations and Resulting Fines Check and see if you have received a traffic ticket
PAYING TRAFFIC FINES • CHECK THE TRAFFIC VIOLATION WEBSITE OFTEN !!! • PAY ANY OUTSTANDING TICKETS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. • YOU MAY NOT BE ABLE TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY IF YOU HAVE OUTSTANDING FINES THAT NEED TO BE PAID. • THIS CAN AND WILL RESULT IN THE DELAY OF YOUR TRIP FROM QATAR!
If you have an accident… If you are involved in an auto accident, move your car immediately, if possible, to the side of the road to prevent traffic from backing up. Call the police and wait for them to arrive. The police will issue a report. Without this report you cannot get your car repaired. Do not leave the scene until the police give you permission to do so. TIP 1:It is also a good idea to call someone who can speak Arabic and has been in-country long enough to be familiar with the laws. This is a good reason why you should always carry the emergency calling card with you! TIP 2:Call the number on the emergency calling card given to you by Texas A&M. There are at least two people on that list who speak Arabic.
Safe Driving Tips • Always be in the RIGHT Place on the road and traveling at the right speed. • Be able to stop safely. Judge stopping distances appropriately. Judgment of speed and distances must be accurate • Do not 'compete' for road space- drive with reasonable restraint, but not with indecision. • Keep a cushion between you and the other cars around you. Tailgating is a very dangerous undertaking. • Always use mirrors before changing your speed or position, and use turn indicators to clearly indicate to other road users what you are about to do. This enhances safety and can improve traffic flow, especially at roundabouts. • Do concentrate properly and avoid distraction. Using a cellular phone while driving is not only illegal, it is dangerous. • Acceleration and braking should be smooth and progressive- try to avoid erratic " stop/go" motoring. • Steering maneuvers should be safe, smooth and accurate. • Do drive with Courtesy and be considerate to other road users, including pedestrians, and be very tolerant of the errors they may make. (Avoid so called ' road rage'!!!!) • Practice patience and self-discipline when on the highway.
Remember… Someone, somewhere, is waiting for you to make it home safely!