IT IS concerning that motorcyle ridesharing services, which are becoming popular, come to employ untrained bikers, adding to the risk of fatal accidents. Road accidents involving motorcycles used under ridesharing services have increased in recent times, mostly for unskilled driving and not having safety gears. As the motorcycle riders possess non-professional driving licences, their driving skills are not tested by any authorities. On July 4, a passenger of ridesharing service died and the biker was injured in an accident on the Airport Road in Dhaka. Moreover, the passenger was not wearing any helmet. One cannot ignore the complaints of users of such services that they fall victim to accidents as the drivers are often unskilled and do not provide riders with helmets. What is disparaging is that almost none of these bikers have any training from any government agency or ridesharing companies in carrying passengers. As such, motorcycle accidents have marked a significant rise, causing death and serious injuries. Another common picture is that bikers talk on mobile and carry pillions without helmets.
What is alarming is that Bangladesh Road Transport Authority data show that till this June, 22.34 lakh motorcycles were registered with the authorities while the number of valid licences for driving bikes is only 8.60 lakh. The major cause behind motorcycle accidents is that most of the bikers are young and do not care to follow traffic rules. Bikers, subject to the same traffic laws that apply to other vehicles, are also supposed to comply with traffic signals. According to the Accident Research Centre at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, motorcycle accidents in the city accounted for about 14 per cent of the road accidents in 2013, up from 3 per cent in 1998. Motorcycles are three times risky in causing fatal accidents than other four-wheel vehicles for their unstable and unshielded features. Notably, bikers of ridesharing services having either non-professional driving licence or no licence at all is an important cause of road traffic fatalities.
Experts have urged the government to take expeditious steps to train these bikers and include more requirements of skills before letting them carry passengers. Or else the situation will go out of control. It is imperative for Road Transport and Highways Division to build a driving training centre at a place which would be accessible to all bikers to facilitate their training. The traffic wing of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police also cannot shirk its responsibility. The punishment meted out to the bikers for the violation of rules has been anything but deterrent. The authorities concerned, including DMP high-ups, should realise that the proper enforcement of traffic rules can reduce the number of motorcycle accidents significantly.
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