Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Vehicle Fatality Rates in Qatar

So there was a recent article in Doha News about the police trying to clamp down on traffic offenders. Looking at some of the comments and having discussions with people here a lot of people dislike the traffic in Doha and find the driving hazardous, too many people ignoring the rules and doing reckless things. That the death toll last April was 29 fatalities also sparked conversation about safety on Qatar’s roads.

I last looked at the statistics for road safety back in 2011 and found that while it had improved it was still behind Western countries. So how about now?

The Government now publishes monthly statistics on road accidents so I took a look at January through April 2014. So here's a bit of math:

Current number of fatalities for 2014: 69 (29+13+13+14)

Extrapolate to the entire year: 69 x 3 = 207 (which would be less than the number of fatalities in 2010 at 226)

If the average population is 2.1 million the fatalities per 100,000 people is 207/21 = 9.86

How does that compare? Well, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) in the United States compiled the fatality rate per 100,000 vehicles for all the states. Would you be surprised to learn that a rate of 9.86 is below average for the United States!? Yep, the average rate in the United States is 10.7, with a range from 5.3 for Massachusetts up to 24.3 for North Dakota. Surprising, right?

So I think Qatar may have more accidents overall but most of the accidents are not serious so the number of fatalities is comparable to the United States.

I’m not sure why this is. Speed may play a role, the higher fatality rates in the US tended to be in a more rural areas in Mid-West and South, possibly with more “wide-open” roads so people can speed easier, whereas in Doha the traffic congestion can prevent a lot of speeding and thus fatal accidents. That said the US statistics also include motorcycle deaths (~14% of fatalities) whereas the rate would be a lot lower in Qatar, so the fatality rate for cars would be higher.


Rory said...

Your conclusion is valid if the number of vehicles per person is constant for both US and Qatar.
This is because you are comparing rates per 100,000 persons with rates per 100,000 vehicles.
So can you do a little more research to confirm the correlation?

Glen McKay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glen McKay said...

Hi Rory. No I haven't compared rates per vehicle to rates per person. The IIHS statistics were rates per 100,000 people which is why the blog post calculated the rate per 100,000 people.

Even on a per vehicle rate Qatar would be reasonable:

The last stats I found for the number of vehicles was a gulf times article noting the number as 876,039 at end-2012. If we add 8,000 a month (conservative as in April 2014 it was 9,100) by April 2014 there would be 1,004,000 vehicles.

207 fatalities for a million vehicles means the fatality per 10,000 vehicles is 2.07, down from 3.13 in 2011. Western countries tend to be around 1.0-1.9.

Anonymous said...

My best guess is that it's distorted by the large number of workers in the country that do not drive. Per Wiki (and if it's in Wiki it must be true!)in 2010 the rates in the US per 100,000 population and per 100,000 motor vehicles were (for 2010), 11.4 and 13.7, respectively. For Qatar they were 14.0 and 32.8, Canada (where everyone is polite) was 6.8 and 10.5.
The other factor was Deaths per 1 billion KM which were 8.5 in the US and 6.5 in Canada (Qatar does not report). The average yearly mileage per vehicle in the US is around 12,000 (19,000 km). I suspect that in Qatar it's much lower.

Glen McKay said...

While there are a lot of non-driving labourers it's offset by Qatar having fewer children since most need a certain income to bring over a family. The percentage of people who don't drive might be similar to other countries.

My estimated rate of fatalities per 10,000 vehicles in Qatar is 2.07, per 100,000 vehicles it would be 20.7. Because of the rapid change in population and number of vehicles you can't use old rates as an indicator. Old blog posts showed that even over 3 or 4 years the rate decreased a lot.

I still think it has something to do with the congestion, forcing people to drive slower so accidents may be more frequent but less serious.

Glen McKay said...

A Qatari friend told me that a someone he knows had discussed accident stats with someone in a Kuwaiti Ministry. Apparently the fatality rate is a lot higher in Kuwait but the number of small accidents is much lower than in Qatar. Again it suggests the congestion plays a role, Kuwait City has a much larger "freeway" system, with almost all of their ring roads similar to 22nd February street, so there's more areas where you can drive fast.