Road safety still remains elusive

Published: 00:00, Aug 17,2019


AT LEAST 21 people died and 80 became injured in road accidents in eight districts on Thursday. Eight of them died in an accident in Feni while three each died in accidents in Kishoreganj and Faridpur, two each in Sirajganj and Mymensingh, and one each in Tangail, Chattogram and Barishal. Road accidents take a heavy toll on human lives during Eid holidays. People returning to the capital city after Eid remain as exposed to accidents as they were during their outbound travel. Increase in public mobility at Eid time tends to exacerbate the existing vulnerability of people to road accidents. What is more worrying is that although most of the fatal accidents take place because of reckless driving that has a link to drivers lacking adequate training and having a tendency to flout rules, the government looks indifferent to the problem. Unfit, modified and rickety buses still dominate the traffic although the High Court on August 3, 2015 asked the authorities to remove all unfit motorised vehicles off the road.

Different quarters at different times have pointed out that roads and highways have become virtual death traps. Experts and also traffic officials have identified reckless driving and faulty vehicles as two major reasons for road accidents and concomitant fatalities, besides a host of structural and infrastructural reasons. The remedial measures that the authorities have so far tried have been piecemeal and not implemented properly. The measures often appear to have stemmed from whims and wishes of authorities, not any serious brainstorming. There are, therefore, reasons to believe that as the government is not serious about ensuring road safety and allegedly have predilections for protecting vested interests that have dominated the transport sector for long, there is hardly any hope for any change at least in near future. The Road Transport Act 2018 was passed in September 2018 in the wake of road safety protests but it is yet to be implemented. Training facilities for drivers are still poor and transport owners are yet to appoint drivers on salary. Road accidents are reported to be eating up at least 2–3 per cent of the GDP growth. The country can, therefore, hardly afford further delay in steps to ensure road safety.

Statistics show that 2,635 people died in 2,609 accidents in 2018; 2,513 died in 2,562 accidents the year before while 2,463 died in 2,566 accidents the year before that. Authorities must realise that the enforcement of rules is a prime requisite for bringing order in traffic and ensuring road safety. Such enforcement entails demonstrative punishment for the offenders, which is very rare.

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