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Monday, December 18, 2006

Qatar traffic accidents

How many accidents should a country like Qatar expect in a year?

There's a population, according to the Cia Factbook, of around 900,000, with almost 25% under the age of fifteen. A large percentage of the population are imported workers on a low income with no chance of getting enough money to buy a car (the majority of Qatar's population is not Qatari). As many Qatari women are still not allowed to drive (they require permission from the male members of their family before being allowed to obtain a licence), we can assume non-drivers outnumber drivers.

Just for comparison, the U.K. with a population of around 60,000,000 had 229,000 accidents in 2001, equating to a little over 3000 accidents per million. Given that the standard of driving is worse but car ownership is lower, could we expect a similar number in Qatar?

Actually no. According to this article in the Peninsula, there were seventy thousand accidents in the first 11 months of 2006. Even assuming there are 300,000 vehicles, if an average of two vehicles are involved in a crash, that means there was a crash rate of fifty percent. Fortunately, the vast majority of these were minor incidents, with a total of 127 deaths. These were road deaths - I suspect this number would be substantially higher if off road deaths were to be included.

It is possible to reduce the danger of accidents by becoming a good defensive driver. Forget aggression (you will be outdone), and expect the unexpected. Don't rely on others indicating, expect people to change lanes (or suddenly pull across three lanes) without checking to see if the lanes are clear, and forget any pride you have to concentrate on getting where you are going in one piece.

And if you are still worried, just be grateful you are not in Saudi Arabia, where according to this post on Life on the Spot it appears driving, like most things in Saudi, is far worse than it is here.

Driving in Qatar

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