Posted on November 14, 2014

School children transported by buses (driven by “competent commercial drivers”) are seven times safer than in private cars, said a senior road safety expert from the International Road Transport Union (IRU), said The Peninsula.

“Compared to other developing countries the GCC states, including Qatar, are doing better in terms of student transportation. However, a study conducted in Australia showed that a student travelling by school bus is seven times safer than the one travelling with parents by private car,” said Haydar Ozkan, General Delegate at IRU. “The use of school buses and public transport system in Qatar will reduce number of vehicles and accidents significantly,” he said.

Ozkan, speaking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of a national seminar on road safety, said that the school buses are safer not only because they are big and stronger, it is largely because they are driven by professional drivers who hold “Certificate of Competence” in addition to commercial driver’s license. The one-day seminar on “Harnessing Road Safety in Road Transport Professional Operations”, held under the patronage of the Minister of Transport, H E Jassem bin Saif Al Sulaiti, was organized by public transport company, Mowasalat (which was represented by Karwa Driving School), in collaboration with  IRU.

Ozkan highlighted that most motorists are not aware about the behaviour and patterns of heavy vehicle drivers. “Given the size of the trucks and trailers, if the driver intends to take a right turn, he will occupy the extreme left lane of the road. So such kind of things should be taught to other road users, and made part of the curriculum, including driving schools,” he said. “Over 85 percent of the road accidents occur due to human behaviour, so merely having a driver’s licence is not enough. So there should be a mandatory professional competency test and certification, especially for the commercial drivers, under the ambit of the Ministry of Transport.”

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He reiterated that commercial drivers, who are generally believed to be the main cause of the road safety problems in developing countries, can be turned into a source of inspiration for other motorists for good driving. This can be achieved through effective regulation system coupled with especial training provided to commercial drivers. He suggested that for the commercial drivers to become an example for other motorists, the Ministry of Transport, in collaboration with other concerned authorities, like in developed countries, should take appropriate measures. 

“Allowing anybody who only holds a drivers’ licence is not enough, rather there should be a mandatory professional training and competence certification for commercial driving to be provided by the Ministry of Transportation,” he said. The seminar held panel discussions examining the ways and means of improving road safety in Qatar by understanding the main reasons of accidents. The IRU shared the findings of a comprehensive research and analysis made from 600 real road accidents based on 3,000 questions asked from each of the accidents, in six European countries.