IT IS concerning that many public and goods-carrying transport drivers work with poor eyesight. A survey conducted on 500 bus and truck drivers at eight terminals in Dhaka shows that 70.4 per cent of the drivers had admitted to having visual complications. Manabik Shahajya Sangstha, which conducted the survey, rightly observed that the situation was alarming. The organisation conducted the survey in January 1–20 at Saydabad, Mohakhali and Gabtali bus terminals, BTRC’s Motijheel and Phulbaria bus depots and Tejgaon, Armanitola and Dholaikhal truck terminals. Of the drivers with visual problems, 73.3 per cent said that they had complications in both eyes and 33.2 per cent said that they had visited eye specialists. Besides, 17.61 per cent use power glasses.
Keeping to the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1983, drivers need to submit a medical certificate, including a report of eye tests, for licences. What is disturbing is that most of the drivers do not submit the report while the authorities are also reluctant to check whether they have visual complications, as the survey organisation said. During the survey, around 58 per cent of the drivers complained about watering eyes, around 32 per cent about irritation in eyes and around 32 per cent about eye aching. Around 31 per cent of the drivers admitted to having difficulties in reading road signs and signs of roadside shops during driving. Of the drivers, 73.8 per cent never went to any eye specialists; the highest 35 per cent of drivers are aged 31–40 years and the highest 64 per cent of the drivers have more than 10 years’ driving experience. What is worrying is that because of the apathy and negligence of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority to check drivers’ eyesight, it has not been possible to establish how many road accidents resulted from driver’s visual complications. Healthy eyes are directly related to safe journey on roads. Hence, the licensing authorities cannot shirk their responsibility of playing a strong role to have the drivers’ eyes properly examined before giving them licence as it is important for a driver to see clearly to be able to drive safely. Authorities also must make sure that drivers have regular eye examinations and if any optometrist tells drivers that they must not drive because of eyesight complications, they must stop driving immediately. Driving for drivers, when they are medically unfit, is a criminal offence.
The authorities are content with checking the fitness of vehicles but they are negligent in checking the fitness of drivers. The government needs to realise that to ensure healthy eyes of drivers, proper arrangement for their eye tests by optometrists is a must as it will reduce the number of road accidents to a large extent.
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