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Fresh law for road safety demanded

Published : 21 Oct 2023 11:14 PM
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The National Road Safety Day-2023 will be observed in Bangladesh today with the theme ‘Ain Meney Sorokey Choli, Smart Bangladesh Gori’ (Let us follow the law on road and build a smart Bangladesh).

However, even if the existing laws are followed properly and enforced strictly, it is not possible to ensure the expected road safety, because the existing laws and regulations, including Road Transport Act of 2018, are not sufficient to ensure road safety in the country.  

Experts on road safety and rights activists said that the formulation of a separate law on road safety based on the internationally recognized five pillars or safe systems approach is a must to make roads safer for passengers and predestines.

The five pillars are safe road users, safe vehicles, safe speeds, safe roads, and post-crash care.

The experts opined that the government must either incorporate a new chapter on road-safety issues into the Road Transport Act of 2018 to prevent road crashes or formulate a new law under the title ‘Road Safety Act’ to ensure safety on the roads. 

Aminul Islam Sujon, technical adviser- road safety at US based global public health organisation Vital Strategies; said that the current laws, particularity the Road Transport Act, mainly cover transport issues, but road safety issue is not covered in the existing laws, regulations, policies and guidelines as per the global standards. In such a situation a separate law on road safety is a must to prevent road crashes, he opined. 

The Road Transport Act, 2018 was enacted aiming to improve road safety by primarily punishing the offenders. The law comes into effect in 2019. However, many important issues like safety related to road infrastructure and vehicles, post-crash rescue and treatment, helmet issue, seat-belt use and safety of children don’t get due importance in Road Transport Act, 2018.

Talking to Bangladesh Post on Saturday, Aminul Islam Sujon said that there is no guideline for speed limit. There is no separate seat for children. The number of two-wheeler transport, especially motorcycles, is increasing day by day on the roads, but the issue of helmet is not covered by the 2018 law and other laws and regulations. In such a situation, there is now alternative to enact separate law to deal with all such issues, he added. 

Only few articles of the Road Transport Act mention road safety issues. The rest have given importance to issues related to the road transport system. So, it is not possible to ensure road safety under the existing laws or the recently introduced Road Transport Rules.

Ilias Kanchan, chairman of Nirapad Sarak Chai, thinks that the current Road Transport Act, 2018 and Road Transport Rules, 2022 have some limitations to ensure road safety.  Therefore, a separate road safety law must be formulated as soon as possible.

The Road Safety Day is observed on October 22 every year as a continuation of the movement to make roads safer. The cabinet meeting in 2017 decided and approved to observe the day as the National Road Safety Day. On October 22 of the same year, the first National Road Safety Day was observed in Bangladesh.

Although Bangladesh’s roads have improved, the road crashes have become a national problem in the country.