Decline in number of road accidents

Still a long way to go

Published : 03 Jan 2020 07:12 PM | Updated : 07 Sep 2020 04:13 PM

That Bangladesh has seen a decline in the number of road fatalities in 2019 is certainly a testament to the concerted endeavours made by the government to abate the number of road accident. According to Annual Road Accident Report 2019’ which was prepared based on news published in 24 national dailies, 10 regional newspapers and nine online news portals and news agencies, the number of road mishaps and injuries decreased in 2019 in comparison with that of 2018, but the number of deaths in accidents had increased alarmingly.

The report states that a total of 4,580 people were killed and 10,828 others injured in 4,317 road accidents in 2018 while 4,628 people lost their lives and 8,621 others suffered injuries in 4,219 accidents from January 1 to December 31 last year. Also the report identifies various initiatives that helped reduce the number of road accidents last year. These include growing public awareness by publishing reports on road transportation on the media round the year, arranging different programmes against road accidents by different social organisations, road transport and bridges minister's active presence on roads, increased responsibility of police personnel and mobile courts against faulty vehicles and fake driving licences, identifying different risky turning points and establishing cautionary signs there and road repairs. Considering the aforementioned reasons, one can say that indeed not all the road safety measures taken over the last couple of year have gone in vein. 

Following the students movement, last year Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued a five-point directive to prevent road accidents. The directives include: no stoppage of vehicles here and there on roads, making rest houses on highways for drivers and ensuring work hours of five hours. Also a special committee was formed too on 4 September to prevent road accidents and develop traffic systems. But most of the decisions and recommendations have not been materialised. Moreover, the act passed last year to ensure punishment of the law violators has rendered ineffective too due to the protests of the transport owners and workers.

Road accidents are common phenomenon in every country around the world. What makes them different is that other countries punish the responsible ones, but the culprits are always at large here in Bangladesh. The Kolkata police too in India have arrested the driver of the vehicle that killed two Bangladeshis in Kolkata in last year. Whom have the police detained so far here in connection with the road accidents? Has any official of any organisation been brought to answer?

Every time the gravity of road safety issues gets intensified when any student dies of road accident. Protesters blocking roads and seeking the highest punishment of the perpetrators have become very common repercussions of any gruesome road accident. After every incident of road crash we hear pledges from the BRTA, police, and other transport authorities of taking effective measures. But all fade away within the circle of time which is why the procession of deaths on the roads never stops.

It is high time that Bangladesh takes stern actions against reckless driving. In order to ensure road safety for all, the design and quality of the roads and highways must be improved; unfit vehicles should not be allowed on the roads and there should be mass awareness on traffic rules. Also in order to maintain discipline on roads, the idea of Black Box can play an effective role. It will not cost more than Tk 10 thousand but will definitely help monitor vehicular speed and other movements. Also there is a need to set up an adequate number of CCTV cameras which will help in investigation of accidents in city streets.

Road accidents are common phenomenon in 

every country around the world.What makes them different is

 that other countries punish the responsible ones, but the culprits 

are always at large here in Bangladesh. The Kolkata

 police too in India have arrested the driver of the vehicle 

that killed two Bangladeshis in Kolkata last year. Whom have

 the police detained so far here in connection with the road accidents?

 Has any official of any organisation been brought to answer?

The recurring road accidents on roads and highways throughout the country and resulting loss of life have become a cause of concern for the citizens. Reckless drivers, with little or no training, are virtually unstoppable as they speed along the roads in a frenzy of overtaking each other to reach the destination. None of the measures taken so far by BRTA and other organisations could give the desired result.   

Transportation experts blame unfit vehicles, unskilled drivers and reckless driving as the core reasons behind the staggering number of road accidents. Many bus owners recruit drivers considering personal relationship and recommendations of known people without properly examining their driving skill. Therefore, immediate measures to improve the current road safety issues, such as examining driver’s skill and vehicle fitness, discouraging reckless driving, improving the traffic police control system and ensuring more cooperation between the drivers and owners are needed.

It has been reported that in most of the accident cases the buses were running without fitness certificate and the drivers did not have a valid driving license.

When the authorities concerned cannot maintain integrity in terms of giving certificates to drivers and vehicles, it is not pragmatic to expect those drivers who buy licence through unfair means will maintain discipline on the roads. In this regard, a strong monitoring body equipped with modern technology and adequate manpower should be devised immediately. What we all want now is to see severe steps taken by the relevant authorities to punish those responsible for these deaths. Sayeed Shuvro works with the Bangladesh Post

S H B Shuvro is a member of the Editorial Team of Bangladesh Post