Eight hundred students in Qatar have benefited from one-to-one coaching about road safety at their school this year as part of a programme that aims to raise awareness and change hazardous behaviours on Qatar’s roads. Students for Road Safety targets students aged 12 to 18 with a mix of interactive presentations and coaching by advanced trainers in an immersive driving simulator, designed to imitate Qatar’s roads and local driving behaviours.
Each year, it’s thought up to 75% of all road deaths in Qatar are young men aged between 10 and 29. Students for Road Safety was launched a year ago by programme owners Maersk Oil Qatar and the Ministry of Interior as part of the national ONE SECOND road safety initiative. The school visits by Students for Road Safety are in addition to its support of community and traffic events to increase its impact on seeding behavior change. The goal of Students for Road Safety is to instill responsibility in Qatar’s youth to develop a positive road safety culture in all of Qatar’s schools, thereby transforming students into road safety ambassadors at school and at home.
Captain Riyadh Ahmed Salih, Head of Traffic Awareness Section at the Traffic Department said: “By working together we can improve the behaviour on Qatar’s roads and reduce the number of injuries and deaths. Students for Road Safety is in keeping with Qatar’s National Road Safety Strategy which the Ministry of Interior launched in 2013 to make our roads safer. We congratulate everyone involved in the programme to date.”
The driving simulator used in the Students for Road Safety programme is the only one of its kind in the Gulf region and includes a full real car cockpit, an advanced display system with wrap around screen and an artificial intelligence engine that reflects common behaviours on Qatar’s roads like tail-gating, failure to indicate, flashing lights and cutting across cars at round-abouts. The Students for Road Safety Simulator utilises technologies originating from the aviation and Formula 1 industries.
Sheikh Faisal bin Fahad Al-Thani, Deputy Managing Director of Maersk Oil Qatar, said: “The Students for Road Safety simulator is locally made for local conditions and has benefited hundreds of students at schools across Qatar in 2014. At Maersk Oil Qatar, we are proud to have worked with the Ministry of Interior and Virginia Commonwealth University to develop the ONE SECOND! national road safety brand, and we support a range of campaigns including Students for Road Safety. Our support forms part of our Action for Qatar social investment programme that seeks to leave a real and lasting impact on the people of Qatar.”
In the past two months alone, Students for Road Safety has visited Doha College and the International School of London, building on previous visits to Jassim Bin Hamad Independent School for Boys, Ali Bin Jassim Bin Mohammad Al Thani Independent Secondary School, and more. Most recently, the programme visited Khalifa High School For Boys. Othman Al Mashhdani, Road Safety Coordinator at Khalifa High School for Boys said: “Our students really engaged with the programme, and the visit of the simulator to our school allowed our students to safely gain an awareness of road conditions in Qatar without having to be behind the wheel of a car. Teaching our high school students tactics of safe driving is crucial during this stage of their development, when many are beginning to think about driving”.
From his part, Abdullah Al Kuwari, a student in the tenth grade at Khalifa High School for Boys said, “The awareness session provided us with valuable insights about the risks that come from using your mobile while driving and the importance of using a seat belt. Driving in the simulator gave me the opportunity to learn safe practices with the help of expert instructors.”