Road discipline blown to the wind!

No discipline has still been brought to roads and highways across the country despite various measures undertaken by the government. Desperate driving, and tendency of violating traffic rules have continued to take away lives on roads and highways everyday throwing the fate of most of the victim-families into oblivion.

Members of different law enforcement agencies assigned to country’s important roads and highways to ensure safe journey, are failing to control desperate driving, especially when night falls, and the highway becomes empty. A number of people travelling different roads and highways are meeting tragic ends of their lives every day.

Even, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself issued five directives to bring safety to the roads. However, no visible progress of the PM’s directives is reflected on the roads. Based on several organisations’ information, it was learnt that, every year more than 7000 people died on roads and around 17000 people were injured. These organisations have identified careless driving, unskilled drivers and mismanagement on the highway as the major reasons for unwanted accidents.

The government, private organisations, different socio-cultural organisations, volunteer groups, teachers, students and people from all walks of life have continued to raise voice against desperate driving. But all efforts to ensure safe journeys on roads and highways, are going in vain as the drivers and staff are becoming more desperate.

In many cases when the highway police or other members of law enforcement agencies try to stop the coaches or buses moving at high speeds, the drivers dodge them in many ways and make good their escape. The owners, drivers and other staff of long-distance buses, coaches, trucks, covered vans and minibuses have been repeatedly requested to reduce vehicle speed. But they are not paying heed to the request.

According to World Bank statistics, annual fatality rate from road accidents is found to be 85.6 per 10,000 vehicles. Hence, the roads in the country have become deadly! Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Buet, said at least 40,000 people were killed and 60,0000 others got crippled in road accidents across the country over the last five years.

Besides, the country also suffers an economic loss of about Tk 380 billion each year because of road accidents. Over-speeding is responsible for 53 percent of casualties in road crashes while careless driving for 38 percent of fatalities, and the rest for other reasons. Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity (BJKS) statistics showed, at least 273 people were killed in 232 road accidents this year – where 849 people were injured.

According to their statistics, total 29315 people were killed in 21386 road accidents from 2014 to 2019. General secretary of BJKS MozammelHoque said, regardless of meetings and rallies, anarchy is not stopping on the roads, but it was a relief when the PM issued a five-point directive.

“But still it’s a matter of sorrow that, among the directives two are under consideration, while the rest three are also to be established if the concerned authority takes measures,” he added. Experts said, this disorder on city road will not change unless people from all walks of life take the issue seriously.

They said, violation of traffic rules, reckless driving and road racing by drivers have become the order of the day in the capital, causing vexing traffic congestions and frequent road crashes. They said traffic rules awareness campaigns fell on deaf ears. No one, from the drivers to pedestrians, follow the rules. Breaking the law appears to have become the norm on the streets, they said.

Transportation and Safety Expert, Dr. Md. Shamsul Hoque said, strong position from the government side is vital to ensure road safety. Those responsible for the project to bring road safety must be accountable.