Within moments, a further five loaded trucks collided with the first two and a helper from one of the trucks – Shafiqul Islam, 30, hailing from Joypurhat- died in the accident.
Our Tangail Correspondent Afzal Hossain and Sirajganj Correspondent Aminul Islam Khan Rana reported that some 15 trucks crashed yesterday morning at either end of Bangabandhu Bridge, in several accidents due to dense fog.
The Officers-in-Charge of Bangabandhu Bridge east and west police stations told the Dhaka tribune that they suspected the fog played a crucial role in the accidents, particularly when compounded by the fact that street lights were turned off.
Our reporters contacted the Bangladesh Bridge Authority’s Bangabandhu Bridge Site Officer Wasim Ali and asked if the weather machine at the bridge had detected the dense fog, however he refused to comment on the matter.
Last year, after four accidents on and around Bangabandhu Bridge had left six people dead and 50 others injured within the span of a few hours, the Roads and Highway Ministry felt compelled to set a fixed speed limit 50kmph when there was fog.
At least two percent of the total road accidents throughout the country are fog-related
Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader announced the speed limit on January 12, 2016. He stated that speeds should at maximum be between 40 and 50 km on highways in foggy conditions and asked drivers to postpone their journeys for the sake of safety if there is dense fog on the highways. In addition, he urged drivers to use fog lights during the drives.
Secretary of Road Transport and Highways Division MAN Siddique told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday that they had circulated the order regarding dense fog to the transport owners and drivers. Furthermore, they had also asked the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority to take measures to ensure safety during times of fog.
However, experts said that, despite a significant number of fog related accidents in the country, effective measures by the authorities concerned are yet to be taken. Even the awareness campaign seems to have been ineffective, as the drivers were still lacking knowledge on driving during dense fog.
The Accident Research Institute (ARI), quoting Bangladesh Police statistics, said that between 1998 and 2014, some 53,191 road accidents took place in the country. Among them, 9620 accidents took place in January (5043) and February (4577) alone.
According to ARI analysis, of the 9620 accidents 988, more than 10%, took place due to dense fog, said Assistant Professor Kazi Saifun Newaz.
He said at least two percent of the total national road accidents are fog-related.
He added that drivers were depending on high beams as many did not have fog lights, and this was a cause for great concern.
He clarified that high beam headlights reflect off the water vapor in foggy conditions and actually decrease visibility. As such, low beam headlights were optimal for use in fog, a fact many drivers remain unaware of.
Furthermore, he added that many drivers could not see the white line on bridges used to seperate lanes.
Saifun suggested the authority arrange training for the drivers to learn how they would drive in dense fog. Other measures that would be beneficial include the use of yellow markings at dividers, as well as a rumble next to lane dividers so drivers would know when they are edging close to it. Mini lights should be used at the rumble (5 to 10mm) while he also suggested trips be postponed outright in the case of particularly dense fog.
Asked what would be the best practices for the drivers, he said use of low beam headlights, fog lights, the maintaining of a minimum five second distance from the vehicle in front, and keeping to the left side of the road. If there is dense fog, then the car should be parked on the side of the road, outside of the driving lane.