This week saw the launch of Qatar’s Traffic Department Awareness Campaign on the dangers of using your mobile handset whilst driving. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that texting and driving is dangerous, but plenty of people continue to do it.
Most troubling of all is that even with all the stories of tragic car accidents happening as a direct result of distracted driving, teens and adults are still texting at the wheel – with many teenagers citing the reason they think it is OK is that adults to it too. Ergo – a change in behavior and awareness is sorely needed on this issue, not only in Qatar but worldwide.
One teen from Idaho totaled two cars in the span of about a year, texting at the time of both crashes, clearly lessons were not leant! The infographic in this blog post is care of onlineschools.com and shows some worrying data such as 23% of auto collisions involved cell phones – that amounted to 1.3 million crashes.
Despite this 77% of young adults are confident that they can safely text while driving. But seriously is an OMG or LOL ever worth it? The answer is a resounding NO! A recent blog post on Digital Qatar highlighted the startling fact that if you drive and text or drive and read an email your response to an emergency is significantly lower that if you are drinking and driving. Whilst in Qatar, and other countries too, we pour scorn on those who drink and drive, quite rightly so, the same attitude is not displayed to those who use their mobiles whilst driving, even though it is potentially more deadly.
According to the Gulf Times, as part of the campaign, traffic patrols will alert drivers to the dangers of using phones whilst behind the wheel and department personnel will provide advice and guidance to motorists on how to change their behavior. Quoted in the Peninsula paper, Brigadier Mohamed Abdullah Al Maliki, Secretary of the National Committee for Traffic Safety said several studies show that using the phone while driving is no less dangerous than drinking and driving.
The Qatari traffic chief has warned motorists that using a mobile phone while driving is just as risky as driving under the influence of liquor. He said, “Using a mobile phone while driving will lead to the loss of the driver’s control of the vehicle, thus resulting in accidents that kill or hurt innocent people. Awareness plays an important role. If there is any emergency call, the motorist should park the car and talk.”
Col Salem Saqr Al Meraikhi, Assistant Director of Legal Affairs Department, said that Qatari Traffic Law stipulates that motorist shall not use hand held devices while driving and should not be engaged in watching visual media inside the vehicle.
So there you go – it is dangerous, crazy stupid and illegal – so please don’t text and drive!