This paper is aiming at raising awareness, informing decision makers and informing the transportation community of the implications of road accidents and high accident rates and severities in Qatar and similar Gulf countries. The paper is also recommending to adopt an integrated approach with a set of measures and actions to policy makers in Doha, including environmental measures which can aim at improving pedestrian safety and reducing accidents while walking or crossing the roads in urban areas in Doha. The recommendations will be applicable for implementation in other similar cities in the region.

The statistics of those killed as a result of road traffic accident is very alarming and comparable to those caused by communicable diseases as shown in Table 1.1. Although road traffic accidents affect all age groups, but its fatality rate is conspicuously highest among young people. In fact, it is consistently one of the top three causes of death for people between the ages of 5 and 44 years (WHO, 2009). These unprecedented fatality rates has prompted the World health Organization (WHO) to call for urgent action to be taken to curb this menace or else the fatalities could rise to become the fifth leading cause of death by 2030 (WHO, 2009). Leading causes of death, 2004 and 2030 compared

(Source: Peden et al., 2004)

These safety concerns are worldwide; the UK Department for Transport reports that in 2011, the fatality rate for pedestrians has increased by 12% compared to 2010. In the United States, statistics show that there are 5,000 killed and 64,000 injured pedestrians in vehicle accidents annually. Other western and Eastern countries also face similar problems and concern about pedestrian traffic accidents. In order to manage and improve pedestrian accidents, it is important to have a good understanding of pedestrian movements while walking and crossing the roads.

The fatality rate of road traffic accidents vary geographically depending on several factors which may include: the population of the place (i.e. level of crowdedness); environmental factors (e.g. its quality of road networks, design of the roads); economy of the region (e.g. income of the people); government policies of implementing road safety regulations etc. For instance, road traffic accidents have claimed more lives in North America than any other geographic region. Pedestrian accidents are of major concern in Qatar as well as in other Gulf countries that could discourage individuals to walk. Statistics show that the large majority of pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas. It has been claimed that pedestrians are involved in more than 25% of total deaths in these accidents. Pedestrian accidents in urban areas occur largely on the main roads where pedestrian traffic is more frequent and the vehicle traffic is heavier or faster; all of which make crossing action more difficult. Infrastructure, road design as well as other environmental factors all contribute to the volume of pedestrian, as well as other types’ of accidents.

Despite effort by the Gulf governments to improve road safety regulations, road traffic accidents are becoming increasingly prevalent in in these states, thereby, constituting a serious public health problem (Barrimah et al., 2012; Ansari et al., 2000; Bener & Jadaan, 1992; Ofosu et al., 1988). In fact, researches have shown that road traffic accidents are the major cause of morbidity and mortality at a rate that is comparable to heart diseases and cancer (WHO, 2009; Al Ghamdi, 2002 & 2003). In Saudi Arabia, road traffic accidents have been found to be second major health problem, after infectious diseases (Mufti, 1983). Since the oil boom in 1973, the Gulf states have experienced rapid expansion of their economy and urban development of most of its cities (Ofosu et al., 1988). Again, there has been rapid population growth triggered by its economic prosperity causing an influx of foreign workers (Ansari et al., 2000; Ofosu et al., 1988). The Gulf states are also attractive destinations to a large number of employees because of the high salaries and free income taxes in these states. Moreover, there have been an increased motorization of the highways and rapid expansion of road networks in all Gulf states (see for example Ansari et al., 2000; Ofosu et al., 1988). This is because motor vehicles are the principal means of transportation in these countries due to the convenience and speed they offer in facilitating the movement of people and goods to their various destinations (Ansari et al., 2000). Road transportation also has positive impacts on both the nations and individuals by enabling increased access to economic activities, job opportunities, education, recreation and health care service.

In Doha, as in other Gulf cities the mixed population composition and backgrounds and different walking and crossing behaviour add to the complexity of understanding pedestrian behaviour. Land use characteristics in these countries also have to be considered as a major contributor to accidents in these countries. Therefore, pedestrian flows have to be managed in a more efficient way in order to consistently cut the number of fatalities.

To address the above, the paper is designed to investigate the main factors that influence pedestrian behaviour at congested locations in urban areas in Doha and the appropriate way forward to influence this bahaviour. The paper presents an in-depth investigation and characterisation of pedestrian interaction with motorised traffic. The way forward to overcome some of the discussed factors will also be proposed.


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