From arrogance to ignorance, and everything in between, the range of responses to a recent survey on using ‘indicator-lights’ while driving were truly illuminating. Answers to the questionnaire on using vehicle side-indicators, before changing lanes, making a turn or exiting a road, were just as enlightening as they were embarrassing. Enlightening, because the study helped broaden our understanding of drivers with whom we regularly share roads; embarrassing, because in a region where there is one vehicle for every two inhabitants, not too many people seem to know basic driving etiquette and safety norms.
It appears that in a region where many have the money to buy the latest fancy cars, some do not have the brains needed to drive them. While nearly everyone surveyed agreed that using indicators reduced road-accidents, the response to why they did not turn on indicators ranged from, “Why should I?” to “How can I; my one hand is on the steering and other is on my mobile” and, “I know indicators are important, but most other drivers do not use them, so why should I indicate.”
Also, when it came to indicator usage, there seemed to wide disconnect between what motorists knew they should be doing and what they actually did. There was a similar mismatch between what drivers said they did and what fellow-drivers observed them to be doing.
Although recent road infrastructure developments are helping to ease congestion, the lack of an efficient public transport network, the relatively low cost of fuel and an automobile density of over 500 vehicles per 1,000 residents means that traffic jams are the norm, especially during rush hours.
Given this bumper to bumper traffic congestion one would assume people would pay more attention to following basic driving rules, such as giving proper signals before changing lanes or making a turn. But it was precisely during peak traffic times that many people in the survey said they did not give proper indication; and the reason for this was ironically, because they were distracted by all the traffic around them.
The study on behavior in traffic was part of a bi-annual Road Safety Monitor survey, initiated by QIC-Insured, the retail arm of Qatar Insurance Company (QIC) and conducted by YouGov, an international, internet-based market research firm.
The QIC-Insured initiative, which was conducted among a broad demographic of drivers in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, included both, men and women, young and old, citizens and expatriates. The traffic study was aimed at generating data and increasing public awareness on the causes of poor driving in order to encourage a safety-first motoring culture.
Not using indicators properly is an inconsiderate, impolite and law breaking traffic behavior, it also leads to emergency braking and lane swerving which are among the main causes for fatalities on roads in the region. Always using the indicator protects the driver, their passengers, and other road users, as well as pedestrians. Regardless of their backgrounds, all motorists must have a crystal clear understanding to always indicate – it is as simple as that.
Excerpts from the questionnaire
Do you use your indicator when changing lanes, taking an exit, turning at a junction, etcetera?
Almost every time: Qatar (78%) UAE (67%) Kuwait (66%) Oman (63%)
Almost never: Qatar (1%) UAE (4%) Kuwait (8%) Oman (6%)
Do other motorists use their indicators?
Almost every time: Qatar (13%) UAE (15%) Kuwait (9%) Oman (13%)
Almost never: Qatar (5%) UAE (7%) Kuwait (11%) Oman (6%)
Does using indicators increase road safety?
Yes: Qatar (91%) UAE (90%) Kuwait (89%) Oman (93%)
No: Qatar (9%) UAE (10%) Kuwait (11%) Oman (7%)
What are the reasons you do not use indicators?
The traffic around me demands my full attention, so I cannot think of using the indicator
Qatar (27%) UAE (22%) Kuwait (30%) Oman (16%)
Using indicators is a sign of inexperience or weakness
Qatar (24%) UAE (21%) Kuwait (15%) Oman (20%)
I do not indicate out of habit
Qatar (25%) UAE (24%) Kuwait (23%) Oman (30%)
I do not think it is important or understand why to indicate or other reasons
Qatar (14%) UAE (23%) Kuwait (24%) Oman (25%)
I have no hand free to use the indicator (for example because of using my mobile phone)
Qatar (10%) UAE (10%) Kuwait (8%) Oman (9%)