The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
RM and SC conceptualized the study, and wrote and edited the manuscript. ZM performed the statistical analyses, and wrote and edited the manuscript. HA helped design the survey, carried out data collection and input, and wrote and edited the manuscript. MAT and AAT edited the manuscript. All authors reviewed the manuscript and approved the final version.
Availability of data and materials
In Qatar traffic injuries and fatalities are of serious concern. Mobile phone use whilst driving has been associated with increased risk of vehicular collisions and injuries. Seat belt use has been demonstrated to save lives and reduce the severity of road traffic injuries. Whereas previously published studies may have looked at all front passengers, this study aims to obtain reliable estimates of the prevalence of seat belt and mobile phone use among vehicle drivers in the city of Doha, Qatar. Additionally, we aim to investigate the association of these behaviors with other variables namely gender, time of the day and type of vehicle.
An observational study on 2,011 vehicles was conducted in 2013. Data were collected at ten sites within Doha city over a two-week period. Two trained observers surveyed each car and recorded observations on a data collection form adapted from a form used in a 2012 Oklahoma observational study. Associations were assessed using the Chi-squared test or Fisher’s exact test. A p-value of .05 or less was considered statistically significant.
Overall, 1,463 (72.7 %) drivers were found using a seat belt (95 % CI: 70.8–74.7 %) and 150 (7.5 %) their mobile phones (95 % CI: 6.3–8.6 %) during the observation period. Mobile phone use was significantly associated with not using a seat belt and driving a sport utility vehicle. Significantly lower rates of seat belt use were observed in the early morning and late afternoon. No gender differences were observed.
Seatbelt use in Doha was found to be similar to countries in the region but lower than those in western countries. Also, studies from other high-income locations, reported lower rates of mobile phone use while driving than in Doha.
Despite road traffic crashes being one of the leading causes of death in Qatar, three out of 10 drivers in Doha, Qatar, do not use a seat belt and about one in 12 use a mobile phone while driving. More efforts, in the form of awareness campaigns and increased law enforcement, are needed to improve compliance with laws requiring seat belt use and prohibiting mobile phone use while driving.