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Drivers must change behaviour for road safety

Published : 28 Feb 2023 10:14 PM | Updated : 02 Mar 2023 07:41 PM

Road accident is a great social concern in Bangladesh and the situation is not improving as expected. Thousands of people lose their lives innsuch accidents while many more are left to survive maimed on roads and highways in the country every year .

Dhaka sees a rising trend of road accidents as most of total road accidents take place in Dhaka Division. In 2022, Dhaka district witnessed the highest number of road accidents and fatalities.

Al Stewart, an expert on road safety from the Asia Pacific Region who recently visited Bangladesh to address the ongoing issue of road safety in the country, shared his observations and insights on the road safety situation in Bangladesh.

He said that the city corporation and police authorities can play a vital role to make significant reductions in road trauma in Dhaka through changing behaviorsof the drivers. Not only in Dhaka, the road safety can be significantly ensured across the country through addressing the issue and some other issues, he added.

He emphasized the importance of high-visibility, legitimate enforcement, and communication as key pillars of any effective road safety strategy. He also stressed on the importance of capacity building, including training programmes for members of law enforcement agencies, to enhance road safety practices and reduce the risk of road accidents through applying aspects of effective global road safety enforcement models to the local enforcement environment. 

Stewart, a consultant at Asia Pacific Region of Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), visited Bangladesh on behalf of GRSP and the Bloomberg Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS). Both the GRSP and BIGRS work to improve road safety around the world. 

Stewart talked to Bangladesh Post over the road safety issue during his visit in Bangladesh. Khaleda Jasmin, consultant at Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC)-BIGRS Program, coordinated with this reporter in this regard. 

Talking to Bangladesh Post, the road safety expert highlighted the need for effective communication strategies to raise public awareness about the importance of road safety. 

Al Stewart worked with the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) over the past eighteen-months to deliver capacity-building training, virtually due to Covid-19 situation, on Road Policing Leadership, Intelligence-Led Policing and Crash Investigation. 

When asked about focus of his visit in Bangladesh, he said, “We are pleased to be here in person to enhance those existing relationships and create new connections with the DNCC, Chattogram Metropolitan Police (CMP) and Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) towards getting a better understanding of the enforcement environment to allow us to develop training and operational strategies going forward to assist in reducing road trauma.”

He also said, “We have been fortunate to receive a great deal of support for this programme so far and look forward to working with our local partners over the next few years.”  

Replying to another question over the important factor to ensure road safety, Stewart emphasized on building leadership and developing communication. 

“Leadership is a prime factor in the success of road safety interventions,” he said adding that whenever organizations change their operating model, it requires strong, clear leadership to share the vision and demonstrate the value of proposed changes.”

Explaining how each employee’s role contributes to the overall goals, he said, “If staff understand the reason why they come to work, are trained and equipped to achieve their tasks, they perform at a higher level. That is no different for police services and associated agencies proactively targeting road safety risks through an evidence-based, general deterrence enforcement model, he added.”

“We also see in jurisdictions globally that have made significant reductions in road trauma a partnership between enforcement activity and related social media and marketing campaigns,” he told Bangladesh Post. 

The GRSP Consultant continued that this has the benefit of educating the public as to the risks they are taking due to their driving behavior, and also raises the perception of detection, due to their awareness of increased police activity and their experience of seeing it in action on the road network. This general deterrent enforcement model changes driver behavior and increases the safety of all road users. 

About the role of enforcement in ensuring road safety, Al Stewart said that enforcement is part of a wider ‘Safe System’ model that looks at every part of the road network and, working together, partners can address any current or emerging road safety risks by putting in place evidence-based road safety interventions. 

In the points, the road safety expert suggested identifying local road safety risks. Police services have limited resources and these have to be deployed effectively to make a difference. “Where we are able to access available information from police enforcement, crash scene investigation, offence rates and partnership information (hospitalization injury data and insurance claims), analyze the data and identify high risk behaviors and locations, we can deploy effectively to those risks,” he added.  

He also said, “It also allows us to fully inform the public about the reasons why we are increasing enforcement in those areas. The aim of police road safety enforcement is to keep road users safe, and this is an important message that we need to send to members of the community.” 

About enforcement related to communication, Al Stewart said that communication is essential in working alongside enforcement to increase the general public awareness of road safety risks and to deter poor driving behavior. 

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