Qatar to increase penalty for using a phone while driving

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: KaboomPics

A QR500 fine is not high enough to deter Qatar’s motorists from using their phones while driving, the country’s traffic police chief has said.

Speaking to local media yesterday, Brig. Mohammed Saad al Kharji added that plans are afoot to raise the penalty so that drivers take the offense more seriously.

He did not say how much higher the fee would be, however.

Head of the traffic department, Brig. Mohamed Saad Al Kharji. Credit: QNA

Currently, motorists can incur a QR500 ticket for “using or holding a mobile phone or any other device while driving or becoming busy watching any visual object from a television set in the vehicle,” the Qatar Tribune reports.

Regarding exceptions, a police officer previously said it is OK to use a phone if your vehicle has come to a complete stop at a red traffic light.

But if the car is moving or waiting to cross a roundabout or an intersection without a signal, even holding the phone is a traffic violation.

Big problem

Phone usage has been a widespread problem on Qatar’s roads for years.

Officials say motorists are no longer texting or talking so much.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Jan Persiel/Flickr

Instead, people taking selfies and using social media while driving were responsible for 80 percent of major accidents in Qatar in 2015.

However, better enforcement was cited as the reason for a drop in the overall number of traffic accidents and deaths last year.

But people still appear to be concerned about distracted driving.

A recent enforcement campaign over the summer came on the heels of an MOI survey that found 94 percent of people polled online were worried about mobile usage while driving.

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