QATAR. In the first study of its kind in Qatar, researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMC-Q) examined the impact of speed cameras on motor vehicle accidents and found a dramatic decrease in fatal motor vehicle injuries is the result.
Most speed cameras were installed during 2007, giving researchers the opportunity to examine injury rates before and after the use of photo enforcement cameras being widely used.
Examining data over a ten-year period, from 2000 to 2010, researchers found a dramatic decrease in the number of fatal road traffic accidents after 2007. During the study period the number of speed camera on the roads increased from 14 to 84, a six-fold increase, with the majority being placed in 2007. Results of the data collected after 2007 showed fatal car accident rates had dropped to 15 per 100 000.
Until 2007, nearly two-thirds of all trauma-related deaths in Qatar were caused by car accidents with three quarters of the victims being under the age of 50. Traffic death rates in Qatar reached an all time high in 2006 with a level of 26 per 100,000, compared to death rates in Western Europe and North America that range from 5 to 10 per 100,000.
The findings of the study have been recently published in the peer reviewed British medical journal, Injury Prevention.
The study was carried out in conjunction with the Supreme Council of Health who provided yearly data that forms the basis of comprehensive health reports and the traffic department of the Ministry of Interior provided additional information.
The authors of the study are Dr. Ravinder Mamtani, Associate Dean for Global and Public Health at WCMC-Q and Dr. Javaid Sheikh, Dean of WCMC-Q, Dr. Mohammed Al- Thani, Director of Public Health Department, Supreme Council of Health and Dr. Al-Anoud Bint Mohammed Al Thani, Director of Health Promotion and Non-communicable diseases from the Department of Public Health and Dr. Albert Lowenfels, Department of Surgery, New York Medical College.
Dr. Sheikh said, “The reason why this collaborative research is important is because it brings to light the role that law enforcement interventions have played in reducing premature mortality from motor vehicle injuries in Qatar. The Department of Public Health, the Supreme Council of Health, under Sheikh Mohammed’s leadership have been wonderful partners in this initiative and we look forward to working with them on other projects of public health importance to the state of Qatar.”
Dr. Al-Thani said, “This research is proof of how effective policy and strong implementation can save lives. It is the first research study of its kind that the Supreme Council of Health has done with WCMC-Q and it’s a great starting point for sharing experience in different sectors of health. This partnership supports the Supreme Council of Health in having more academic views on research papers and practices while SCH supports WCMC-Q in the field of health and in addressing the real needs of our society.”
The study found that non-fatal severe injury rates also declined, but mild injury rates increased, possibly due to increased traffic congestion and improved notification. The authors note it is possible that speed cameras decreased speeding enough to affect the death rate, without affecting overall injury rates. This suggests that speed cameras are an important component of traffic control, but other measures will be required for maximum impact.
Dr. Mamtani said, “Our study shows that the traffic enforcement measures such as speed cameras have helped improve the safety of our roads in Qatar, but more measures are needed to continue to enhance road safety because there is room for improvement.”
In Qatar road traffic injuries have been considered an epidemic and more than 25 percent of drivers have been involved in a road traffic crash. Road traffic injuries are a major component of the global burden of disease and disability and, in most countries, are the major cause of death during the first few decades of life. In countries with high income levels within the Middle East, motor vehicle deaths are higher than in many other world regions where income levels are much lower.
“As a public health official I keep up to date on important issues affecting the health of the country and, through reading relevant information, it became clear to me that road traffic fatalities are a problem. I saw that in the Middle East data shows premature mortality among the young on roads is high. Our study shows that this simple measure of speed cameras has resulted in a significant decline in fatalities. Furthermore, appropriate well-enforced laws have the potential for further reducing traffic death rates,” Dr Mamtani added.
Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar is part of Weill Cornell Medical College. It was established in 2001 through a partnership between Cornell University and Qatar Foundation.
WCMC-Q offers an innovative educational program that includes a two-year premedical program followed by a four-year medical program leading to the M.D. degree from Cornell University. Each program has a separate admission process guided by the standards of admission at Cornell University in Ithaca and its Medical College in New York City.
For more information, please visit www.qatar-med.cornell.edu