Introduction: What Is Known about the Topic
The issue of traffic injuries and the increase in the death toll among the residents of Qatar has become a major concern for state authorities (Saleh 1). In their article addressing the reasons that the specified phenomenon has occurred, Mahfoud et al. explore the prevalence of using seat belts and communicating via mobile phones while driving among Doha (Qatar) vehicle drivers. Not only can the correlation between the these factors and the propensity among the identified population toward injuries and road accidents be made but also crucial suggestions regarding the improvement of the current road accidents statistics may be offered.
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The issue of seat belt usage is currently viewed as one of the key priorities for maintaining high levels of public health among the residents of Doha, Qatar. Since the number of traffic fatalities has become increasingly high in Qatar, there is a need to investigate the factors that may have contributed to the aggravation of the situation. In particular, the refusal to use seat belts and the tendency to introduce distractions into the process of driving, such as by communicating via mobile phone, need to be studied as the primary contributors to the development of the problem.
Methods: The Authors’ Perspective
The authors of the research use an observational study as the primary tool for data collection. Given that the goal of the research was to explore the nature of road accidents and the connection between the use of seat belts, communication via mobile phones, and the propensity toward accidents on the road, the adoption of a quantitative research method seemed legitimate. Therefore, the use of a quantitative design is the means of conducting the study and meeting the research objectives. 2,011 vehicles were chosen as the subjects of the study. The data required for the analysis was collected from Doha and other cities in the vicinity thereof. The process of vehicle observation at each site was restricted to thirty minutes.
The analysis of the key variables was carried out with the help of frequency distributions. Particularly, the application of the Chi-squared test or Fisher’s exact test was deemed necessary to carry out the assessment of the obtained data. The identities approach created opportunities for determining whether there was a tangible link between the use of seat belts, the propensity toward talking on the phone during the process of driving, and the rates of road accidents in Qatar.
Results: Defining the Outcomes and Their Significance
The results of the study indicated that the current rates of road accidents were comparatively low in Qatar. However, the outcomes of the analysis pointed to the apparent link between the use of seatbelts and the number of accidents occurring on the road, as well as the correlation between vehicle crashes and the use of mobile phones while driving. For example, in the studied crashes, the people who suffered from severe injuries were not wearing a seatbelt in most cases. Furthermore, the results of the analysis showed that there was a tendency among Qatar drivers not to use seatbelts while driving; only 1,463 (72.7 %) drivers were wearing seatbelts in the course of driving a car. While the specified percentage cannot be considered excessively low, it still points to the presence of a disturbing tendency among Qatar residents.
Moreover, a direct correlation between using a mobile phone and refraining from wearing a seatbelt while driving was defined as one of the most prominent trends among Qatar drivers. In addition, a link between the time of the day and the use of seat belts was identified in the course of the analysis; specifically, the Qatar drivers that used their vehicle in the late afternoon or early in the morning were less likely to wear seatbelts.
It should also be considered that most of the vehicles (97%) observed in the course of the study were driven by men. In addition, most of the vehicles that were under the observation were classified as either cars or sports utility vehicles (SUVs). However, no correlation between the gender of the drivers and the outcomes of the study was taken. Additionally, the authors of the research embraced the scenarios in which only cars and SUVs were used, therefore avoiding the consideration of the situations in which any other vehicle was used.
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It is also remarkable that a connection between the type of a vehicle and the tendency to use seat belts and mobile phones was identified in the course of the study. For instance, the authors of the study mention that the drives of vans and taxis seem to be the ones with the least concern for the use of safety belts (41 (2.04 %) and 112 (5.57 %) respectively). The people using vans as a key transportation device also seem to be unconcerned with the significance of using a seat belt as the means of reducing the probability of a fatality due to a car accident (Mahfoud et al. 939).
Therefore, the results of the analysis point to the fact that there is a connection between the refusal to use seat belts and the likelihood of injury during road accidents among Doha drivers. While seemingly self-explanatory, the specified outcome can be viewed as important since it allows change in the current situation by altering the public perspective on the issue and, therefore, helping people to change their habits and assumptions regarding the issue of safe driving, in general, and the use of seat belts and cell phones while driving, in particular. The results of the research prove that it is essential to come up with a framework that would help people adopt more reasonable approaches toward driving and develop the skills that will contribute to a rise in safe driving rates.
Discussion: Strengths, Weaknesses, and Implications of the Study
The study has its strengths and limitations, most of which are defined by the choice of its design. For instance, the adoption of an observational framework as the means of acquiring the data required for the further analysis makes the information obtained in the process somewhat subjective. Thus, certain biases are created, reducing the veracity and credibility of the research outcomes. That being said, the application of the observational design also allows for a significant amount of information to be processed and acquired. For instance, the fact that two observers were used instead of one reduced the subjectivity levels of the provided information; as a result, the credibility of the information supplied for the further analysis was increased significantly.
When addressing the limitations of the research, one must also keep in mind that the actual use of mobile phones while driving was difficult to assess when conducting observations. Indeed, because of a comparatively small number of cases observed during the data collection process, the existing information about the use of mobile phones while driving may not accurately represent the situation. It can be assumed that the observations conducted in the course of the research may feature too many instances of using cell phones while driving or, on the contrary, serve as an underrepresentation of the actual statistics. Furthermore, the flaws of observation as a process of data collection should be mentioned as an issue that may have affected the calculation of the number of times and the general amount of time spent by drivers talking on the phone during their trips. Indeed, due to possible difficulties in the observation process, such as the distance between the observer and the cars, the objects that could have blocked the vision of the observer for the short period of time during which a call could have been made, etc., the actual number of times when drivers used mobile phones in the identified time slot may be slightly different from the information collected in the course of the research.
Furthermore, as stressed above, Mahfoud et al. (938) restricted the study to the analysis of situations in which the owners of cars and SUVs took part. On the one hand, the identified participants fall under the category of vehicle owners that can be seen on the road most frequently. Indeed, including other vehicles in the research would imply having to consider other factors associated with the specifics of driving the identified vehicles. On the other hand, by refusing to embrace the vast variety of vehicles that are currently used, Mahfoud et al. may have reduced the objectivity of the study by a considerable extent. Indeed, by narrowing the range of vehicles solely to cars and SUVs, Mahfoud et al. may have failed to properly represent the statistics of accidents and their connection to wearing a seatbelt and talking on the phone while driving. As a result, while providing a general concept of the impact that the identified factors had on the road accident statistics in Doha, the researchers might have missed the opportunity to explore the subject matter to an even greater extent and, therefore, locate other factors that may affect the current road accident statistics. Therefore, the lack of focus on other vehicles can be viewed as one of the primary problems of the research and its key limitation. By failing to embrace the wide variety of vehicles that can be seen on the roads of Doha, the authors of the study reduced the veracity of the research results extensively.
Conclusion: Messages and Their Significance
As one of the primary leading factors behind the increasing death toll in Qatar, car accidents remain a concern for the Qatar authorities. The research outcomes pointed to the fact that there is a direct connection between the failure to use seat belts and the fatalities during road accidents in Qatar. Furthermore, the use of a mobile phone while driving proved to be one of the essential determinants of the probability of a road accident and the following death of the driver in Qatar.
The necessity of using seat belts as the means of maintaining both drivers’ and passengers’ safety can be deemed as the primary message of the study. Furthermore, the importance of avoiding distractions, in general, and talking on the cell phone, in particular, during the process of driving must be recognized as an important lesson to learn. Although the identified recommendations might seem to be obvious and self-explanatory, the research results indicate that they are often neglected by Qatar drivers. Therefore, there is an evident need for reinforcing the current safety standards and promoting the use of seatbelts, as well as emphasizing the negative effects of distractions such as cell phones during driving.
Therefore, the results of the analysis indicate that there is a strong need to reconsider the current attitude toward the use of seat belts and cell phones while during among the residents of Doha. While the current rates of failing to meet road safety cannot be considered excessively high in the target setting, there are reasons to assume that the current attitude among the identified population toward the issue of road safety should be more serious. Without understanding the gravity of the consequences, the residents of Doha will not be able to feel safe.
Put differently, the outcomes of the analysis serve as the foundation for promoting a different attitude toward the concept of safe driving. The subject matter has been taken for granted by the residents of Doha, which has resulted in the current comparatively high levels of road accident mortality. The introduction of new tools for managing the problem, for which the current study allows, is bound to become the basis for making a difference in the Doha environment. To be more specific, the safety of the drivers and their passengers can be enhanced with the help of new techniques based on the findings of the research. Once the strategies aimed at increasing attention levels among Doha drivers and compelling them to avoid distractions such as communicating via cell phones are incorporated into the current road accident prevention approach, the instances of injuries and deaths caused by driving-related incidents will be reduced by a considerable extent.
Critical Appraisal Tool
When considering the choice of the critical appraisal tool for the research described above, one must keep in mind that the identified paper falls under the category of observational studies, as well as cohort studies. Indeed, given the fact that the target population was finally split into two groups, i.e., the ones that used seat belts, while refraining from talking on the phone while driving, and the ones that used cell phones without using belts, the classification of the specified research design as a cohort study is quite legitimate. Therefore, the corresponding critical appraisal tool must be chosen.
Particularly, the adoption of the Checklist for Cohort Studies provided by the Joanna Briggs Institute appears to be a legitimate choice to make in the specified scenario (Joanna Briggs Institute 2). The identified framework seems appropriate since it allows embracing the essential characteristics of cohort studies, therefore, determining the advantages and flaws of the research under analysis. As a result, a better understanding of the subject matter will become a possibility.
Were the two groups similar and recruited from the same population?
When considering the strengths of the study, one must mention the homogeneity of the groups by which the participants were represented. As stressed above, both included mostly male participants and were selected from the same area. The fact that both groups were represented by the same population allows an assumption that the outcomes of the analysis were generalizable and rather accurate.
Were the exposures measured similarly to assign people to both exposed and unexposed groups?
The measurement of the exposures was carried out by calculating the number of times when drivers were spotted talking on the phone while driving as well as failing to use seatbelts. All of the exposures were measured in a similar manner, by observing vehicles and noting the incidents in which there was an identified deviation from the current safety standards. On the one hand, the specified mode of exposing the participants of the study to the research variables allowed exploring the problem in the most realistic setting possible. Herein lies the foundation for enhancing the credibility of the evidence and, therefore, the value of the research outcomes.
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On the other hand, the lack of control over the exposure process created a complicated environment for conducting the study. Indeed, most of the activities in which the authors of the research were involved concerned observing the choices made by drivers, with little to no effect on the target population. As a result, the exposure of the participants to the key factors cannot be deemed as fully realized. This is both the strength and the weakness of the study. While the authors of the research managed to create a unique setting in which the study that they carried out replicated the environment of the real world impeccably, the lack of control over the intensity of the factors that affected the outcomes of the analysis was not, for the most part, controlled by the researchers.
Was the exposure measured in a valid and reliable way?
The intensity of the exposure to the essential variables of the study, i.e., wearing a seatbelt and using a cell phone while driving, was measured calculating the corresponding instances. Much to their credit, the authors of the paper stressed the lack of reliability of the specified measurement tool in their research. Indeed, the use of statistical information acquired from observations does not have the necessary credibility to allow making strong assumptions to be used in the further design of an appropriate intervention. When considering the problems of calculating observations as the means of measuring the connection between the factors such as wearing a seatbelt or using a cell phone while driving and the propensity toward accidents, one must mention the fact that the specified tool is bound to deliver somewhat subjective results. Indeed, by utilizing the specified approach, one relies heavily on the veracity of the data that was supplied by the observer.
Were confounding factors identified?
When considering the study in question, one must admit that the array of factors that may have affected the choices made by the participants is, perhaps, what makes the outcome the least credible. Indeed, the absence of control over the target population and, therefore, the inability to identify the essential characteristics thereof that may have affected their choices is the weakest aspect of the research. Thus, the number of confounding factors is likely to be immense and, consequently, comparatively hard to identify. Much to the credit of the authors, the essential aspects of the target population’s background that may have affected their choices regarding the use of seatbelts and cell phones while driving a car were listed at some point of the study. For example, Mahfoud et al. (939) include the information concerning the type of cars that the participants drove as one of the possible details that may have shaped the outcomes of the analysis to a certain extent. Indeed, there is likely to be a direct link between the type of a car and the background of its owner, which may affect the choices concerning wearing a seatbelt and talking on the phone while driving.
Were strategies to deal with confounding factors stated?
The identification of different types of vehicles as one of the confounding factors that may have influenced the outcomes of the study can be listed among the primary strategies used by Mahfoud et al. to reduce the effects of various vehicle types on the veracity of research results. According to the details of the research, eleven vehicle types had been identified before the research was started. Despite the fact that the specified step only included an attempt to address one of the confounding factors, it does represent a well put together strategy for managing one of the confounding factors that may have affected the outcomes of the case (Farmer and Farmer 46).
Were the groups/participants free of the outcome at the start of the study (or at the moment of exposure)?
Since the nature of the research was purely observational and did not involve any intrusions into the interactions between the key research variables, it is safe to say that the groups and participants of the research were free of the outcome. For obvious ethical reasons, the authors of the study could not possibly create an environment in which the participants would be exposed to accidents on a regular basis; therefore, the groups that were involved in the analysis were not influenced by the researchers in any way that would imply an increase in the number of road accidents.
It could be argued, though, that the participants were free of the outcomes that were controlled by the authors of the study. The exposure to extrinsic factors, such as a possible road accident caused by the propensity to use cell phones or not to wear a seat belt while driving, however, could not be shaped by the authors of the study and, thus, could not be reduced.
Were the outcomes measured in a valid and reliable way?
The results of the study were assessed based on the assumption that wearing a seat belt and refraining from using a cell phone while driving should be viewed as the norm. Therefore, by calculating the percentage of drivers that abstained from meeting the said requirements, one was able to evaluate the degree of threat to which the target population was exposed (Hartas 252).
Was the follow up time reported and sufficient to be long enough for outcomes to occur?
The authors of the study did not mention any follow-up, which may be deemed as one of the foundational weaknesses of the study. Although the research had some inherent flaws, it also had a great deal of potential that suggested an extensive analysis of the available data concerning the use of seatbelts and cell phones and the connection thereof to the change in the number of road accidents. Furthermore, other distractions could have been studied in a closer manner. Finally, further interventions for reducing the number of accidents on the road caused by the misuse of seatbelts and mobile phones could have been carried out. However, the researchers never mention any of the specified opportunities, therefore creating significant roadblocks to a more profound analysis of the subject matter. Consequently, it is crucial to come up with a design of a follow-up study that will allow exploring the available opportunities and determining the efficacy of newly suggested approaches for preventing further accidents in the setting of the Doha transportation system.
Was follow up complete, and if not, were the reasons for loss to follow up described and explored?
As explained above, the authors of the research never proposed any follow-up study that would allow managing the issue in a more efficient manner and the introduction of successful interventions for preventing the instances of road accidents caused by the misuse of seatbelts and cell phones while driving. Particularly, detailed guidelines concerning the subject matter could have been designed so that changes could be introduced into the target setting.
Therefore, it is strongly recommended that a new and all-embracive approach toward managing the issue of road accidents in the setting of Doha could be created. In particular, a program for raising awareness about the issue in question might be created so that the target population could embrace the gravity of the issue and develop the required habits and skills.
Were strategies to address incomplete follow up utilized?
Because of the problems associated with the absence of a follow-up study design, there is a need to create an all-embracive framework that could help reduce the instances of road accidents in Doha. In particular, it will be crucial to come up with a series of interventions that will contribute to the further development of a good understanding of the importance of the issue. For instance, the application of the latest IT innovations should be deemed as the means of increasing the process of information transfer. The incorporation of social networks into the information management system should be considered a crucial step since it will lead to a rise in awareness rates and the enhancement of the necessity for development of the appropriate behaviors and habits. As a result, the premise for reducing the number of road accidents and similar instances in the Doha environment will be built. It is assumed that the framework to be designed in the course of a follow-up study will finally lead to a systematic rise in awareness rates. As a result, Doha drivers will be less likely to use distractions such as including cell phones while driving. Similarly, the importance of using a seat belt as a means of preventing serious injuries and possible death as a result of a road accident is more likely to be embraced by the target population.
Was appropriate statistical analysis used?
As stressed above, the authors of the analysis chose the quantitative design as the means of exploring the correlation between the study variables. The use of the Chi-squared test and Fisher’s exact test allowed the use of frequency distribution accordingly. The specified approach toward measuring the frequency is a rather appropriate device to be incorporated into the target study.
In one example, the application of Fisher’s test can be justified by the fact that the current research has certain issues with its sample size. As explained above, while not being very small, it may fail to represent the target population appropriately. The adoption of Fisher’s testing framework, in turn, allowed the reduction of the specified inconsistency due to the inherent characteristics of the identified device (Elliott and Richard 135). Herein the importance of using Fisher’s test lies.
Creating an environment in which the target population will feel safe is a challenging task. However, based on the outcomes of the study conducted by Mahfoud et al.., it is possible to change the current attitudes. As a result, a significant improvement is expected.
Farmer, Antoinette Y., and Lawrence Farmer. Research with Diverse Groups: Research Designs and Multivariate Latent Modeling for Equivalence. Oxford University Press, 2014.
Hartas, Dimitra. Educational Research and Inquiry: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2015.
Joanna Briggs Institute. Checklist for Cohort Studies, 2017, Web.
Kevin C. Elliott, Kevin C., and Ted Richards. Exploring Inductive Risk: Case Studies of Values in Science. Oxford University Press, 2017.
Mahfoud, Ziyad R., et al. “Seat Belt and Mobile Phone Use Among Vehicle Drivers in the City of Doha, Qatar: An Observational Study.” BMC Public Health, vol. 15, no. 1, 2015, pp. 937-943.
Saleh, Wafaa. “Road Accidents and Fatalities in Qatar: Is It the Environmental Factors to Blame?” Annual Research Conference, vol. 1, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-43.