Road safety must be viewed as a public health issue

Published: 00:00, Jan 11,2019 | Updated: 00:26, Jan 11,2019

 
 

PEOPLE continue to die apace in traffic accidents. In the latest such incidents on Wednesday, at least nine died and 15 came to be injured in five districts. At least two died as a bus collided head-on with an auto-rickshaw on the Zakiganj-Sylhet road, two more died in Rajshahi as a bus hit a truck laden with sand from behind and a motorcycle collided head-on with another bus, the driver of a modified utility vehicle died as it bumped into a roadside tree in Jhenaidah, a pedestrian died after being run over by a truck in Chattogram and three died as an auto-rickshaw and a modified utility vehicle collided head-on in Bogura, as New Age reported on Thursday. Roads are more bustling with cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles and other two- and three-wheelers. This is to increase with the passage of time and will entail serious harm unless road safety is made a priority. The road transport sector, which has been mired in corruption and irregularities and apparently poor and flawed planning, appears to have hardly improved even after a campaign for road safety that school and college students launched shook the country in 2017.
The problem appears to be lying with the government in not viewing road safety as a public health issue of utmost importance. The government needs to remember that a large number of people die of diseases every year, but a large number of people also die in traffic accidents. With an increase in traffic accidents, injuries give increasing morbidity and mortality trends, which have increased health costs and burden on the budget. In view of this, the government needs to make roads safer. And in order to do so, the government needs to make a wide range of effective interventions. Losses and sufferings associated with traffic death and injuries are preventable. And the government needs a scientific, systems approach to road safety to tackle the issue of road safety. The approach should address the traffic system as a whole, not on a piecemeal basis, and should look at interactions between vehicles, users of roads and the road infrastructure to work out solutions. An allegation that has often been heard in recent times is that although many traffic accidents are not reported, in cases where they are, traffic accidents reporting has remained inadequate and not sufficient enough for accident analysis which stops researchers and policy planners from coming up with effective and sustainable solutions.
The government, under the circumstances, must analyse accidents data, properly recorded, to come up with effective solutions to stop traffic accidents and make roads safe for all — vehicles, passengers and pedestrians. In order for this to happen, the government needs a firm political will and an integrated approach to address vehicles, the people who use roads and road transport infrastructure. Accidents may not be stopped from taking place altogether, but they can definitely be reduced and their effects on the health and well-being of people can be mitigated.

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