Motorbikes, 3-wheelers multiply Bangladesh road accidents

Shahin Akhter | Updated at 02:55pm on October 22, 2019

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Motorcyclists wait past a traffic signal for the lights to go green at Bangla Motors in Dhaka recently. — Indrajit Kumer Ghosh

The involvement of motorcycles and three-wheeler vehicles in fatal road accidents is increasing in the capital and across the country respectively in recent years, said experts.

As a result the number of deaths from both kinds of accidents is on the rise while motorbike accidents have  maimed a large number of victims, statistics show. 

Overall, the numbers of fatal accidents and the resultant casualties are also rising.

Lack of public transports, infrastructure, skilled and professional drivers, proper planning and awareness among people has contributed to the situation, experts said.

Against this backdrop, the National Road Safety Day 2019 is going to be observed today across the country for the third time.

The theme of the day this year is: Livelihood is not before life, no more road accidents.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to join a discussion organised by the road transport and bridges ministry on the day at the Krishibid Institution auditorium in the capital in the morning.

The ministry is also scheduled to hold a rally, show awareness videos at bus terminals, distribute leaflets and posters among road users in all districts, including in the capital. 

The number of fatal accidents involving motorbikes, particularly in the capital, is increasing due to ridesharing services, experts also said.

On the other hand, the number of fatal accidents involving three-wheeler vehicles is increasing in rural areas as these run on highways side by side with speedy, bigger and stronger vehicles.

Road transport and bridges minister Obaidul Quader on different occasions said that motorcycles became a ‘terror’ in the capital and the number of fatalities were increasing on highways due to increasing presence of three wheelers.

The ministry on August 1, 2015 imposed a ban on the movement of three-wheeler and non-motorised vehicles on 22 national highways but the ban was never complied with.

Bangladesh Road Transport Authority data shows that 279 motorcycles were registered daily, so far, in the capital this year.  

National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedic Rehabilitation director Professor Md Abdul Gani Mollah told New Age on Monday that the number of injured in motorcycle accidents in the hospital has gone up in recent years.

‘Currently 20 to 25 per cent of the injured who come here are victims of motorcycle accidents, compared to 15 to 20 per cent three or four years ago,’ he said.

He disclosed that legs of three to five per cent of these victims had to be amputated as the accidents badly injured their veins.

According to the hospital, a total of 1.33 lakh patients came to its outpatient and emergency departments in 2018.

A report by the Accident Research Institute of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology reveals that the involvement of motorbikes and three-wheelers in fatal road accidents has been going up in recent years.

The report was based on reports published in newspapers.

In 2016, the involvement of motorcycles and three-wheeler vehicles in road accidents was eight per cent and five per cent respectively both across the country and in the capital, which started to increase from 2017.

Across the country, the year 2017  saw the involvement of motorcycles and three-wheelers in accidents increasing  to 16 per cent and 11 per cent respectively while the respective  figures for 2018 were 19 per cent and 14 per cent and till October 18 this year were 25 per cent and 13 per cent.

The capital in 2017 witnessed the involvement of motorbikes and three-wheelers in road accidents rising to 15 per cent and eight per cent respectively while the respective figures for 2018 were 19 per cent and four per cent and those for this year till October 18 were 18 per cent and eight per cent.

The same report shows that 3,488 people were killed and 5,863 injured in 3,131 accidents across the country till October 18 this year.

The countrywide corresponding figures for 2018 were 4,076 and 8,715 in 3,513 accidents, for 2017 were 3,672 and 7,400 in 2,917 accidents and for 2016 were 2,529 were and 5,059 in 1,764 accidents.

According to BRTA data, based on police’s first information reports, the year 2018 saw 2,609 traffic accidents that killed 2,635 and injured 1,920 people.

In 2017, 2,513 people were killed and 1,898 injured in 2,562 accidents while the 2016 corresponding figures were 2,463 and 2,134 in 2,566 accidents and the 2015 corresponding figures 2,376 and 1,958 in 2,394 accidents, the data shows.

In the first four months of this year, 427 people were killed and 658 were injured in 848 accidents in the country, it also shows.

Accident Research Institute assistant professor Kazi Md Shifun Newaz said that motorcycles mainly collided with public transports and cars in Dhaka and the causalities increased as the motorbikers did not follow the traffic rules properly and wear requisite safety gears.

‘In Bangladesh they only use helmets, most of which are of low quality, while in other countries they have to wear special dresses, gloves and bands,’ he mentioned.

Shifun Newaz said that after the introduction of ridesharing services in the capital in 2016 many unskilled and unprofessional motorcyclists from districts came here, who were unaware about the traffic situation in the capital.

They neither have professional training nor follow traffic rules, causing fatal accidents, he went on.

The accident researcher said that due to absence of service lanes and alternative transports slow-moving vehicles ran on highways and accidents occurred.

The authorities should introduce buses on highways for small distances to keep slow-moving vehicles off such roads.

In a statement on Monday the Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh said that 29,315 people were killed and 69,428 injured in 21,386 road accidents between 2015 and 2018.

These accidents involved 18.33 per cent motorcycles, 14.25 per cent auto rickshaws, 9.18 per cent battery-powered rickshaws and 8.83 per cent Nasimon, Karimon and tractors.

PWAB secretary-general Mozammel Haque Chowdhury said that the overall numbers of fatal accidents and causalities were increasing in the country due to increasing presence of smaller vehicles.

The transportation system should mainly be based on buses but importance was given to smaller vehicles creating the current situation, he said.

He also said that unskilled drivers engaged in ridesharing services were also a major reason behind road accidents.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police additional commissioner (traffic) Mofiz Uddin Ahmed told New Age that their main target was to improve the mass transport system.

‘We are also trying to improve the existing bus system by fixing bus stoppages, introducing locked-door and air-conditioned buses,’ he said, adding, ‘The number of private vehicles should be reduced and people should be encouraged to use buses.’

Then the demand for motorcycles would also go down, he observed.

BRTA chairman Md Moshiar Rahman said that the number of road accidents involving motorcycles was increasing in the capital as the number of motorcycles was increasing here.

He further said that slow-moving small vehicles were running on highways defying the law and cause fatal accidents with speedy and bigger vehicles.

‘We are trying our best to reduce the number of accidents and casualties,’ he added.

According to BRTA statistics, the number of total registered motor vehicles in the capital till September this year was 14.93 lakh out of which around 46 per cent was motorcycles.

The total number of registered motorbikes in Dhaka was 46,764 in 2015, which increased to 53,738 in 2016, to 75,251 in 2017, to 1.07 lakh in 2018 and to 76,104 till September this year.