Most of the victims of road accidents during Eid are pedestrians
Road accidents are continuously becoming a soaring issue in Bangladesh, killing hundreds of people every month.
As Eid knocks on the door, highways get extremely busy due to the rush among holidaymakers, escalating the number of accidents.
Students from different universities have taken to the streets several times, last July and March this year, demanding safer road.
According to the Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), the number of casualties doubles during the Eid holidays.
Interestingly, most of the accidents that take place during this period reportedly occur during the daytime, and most of the people who fall victim to these incidents are pedestrians.
According to ARI, 62.92% of the total accidents that took place last Eid-ul-Fitr in 2018 occurred during daytime.
Of the total number of accidents during that period, 29.78% victims were pedestrians.
During last Eid-ul-Azha, around 74.36% of accidents happened in daylight. An ARI report said adding that pedestrians topped the list of deceased with 34.36%.
An estimate prepared based on 15 days — including seven days before and after Eid-ul-Fitr — depicts that 222 people were killed and 531 injured in 178 road mishaps.
However, the findings of Bangladesh Passengers Welfare Association (BPWA) show a worse scenario. According to them, 339 people were killed and 265 injured in 277 accidents in 13 days during Eid-ul-Fitr.
During the same 15-day span in Eid-ul-Azha, some 195 road accidents claimed the lives of 249 people and injured 596 others, ARI data shows.
On the other hand, BPWA estimated 259 deaths and 960 injuries from 237 accidents in 13 days.
By analyzing the estimates of ARI, it is found that buses are the main source of accidents.
Of the total number of road crashes, buses caused 19.52% of accidents during Eid-ul-Fitr and 26.5% of accidents during Eid-ul-Azha.
With the two Eids, motorbikes contributed to the second highest number of road fatalities, followed by trucks and three-wheelers.
Around 17.53% of road accidents were caused by motorbikes during Eid-ul-Fitr and 18.5% during Eid-ul-Azha.
Mymensingh alone saw 15 accidents, the highest during the last Eid-ul-Fitr, one more than that of recorded in Chittagong. Both Comilla and Gazipur topped the list of highest with 11 accidents during Eid-ul-Azha, followed by Dhaka.
When contacted, Kazi Md Saifun Newaz, an assistant professor at ARI, said immense pressure of holidaymakers surfaces every Eid, leading to up to eight-hour delays in reaching destinations.
“Keeping the mad rush and heavy traffic on the highways in mind, transport workers engage in a competition for getting as many trips as possible, causing frequent accidents,” he observed.
Terming the problem an ever-increasing issue, which deepens especially during peak travelling seasons like Eid, BPWA Mozammel Haque Chowdhury said the government seems negligent about the issue.
“The transport owners and workers also are largely to be blamed for these deaths because they plan to make a quick buck, taking advantage of the rush among homegoers,” Mozammel said.
Stating that pedestrians are also to be blamed for accidents, the road safety campaigner said: “Other than accidents caused by three-wheelers like nasimons and karimons, CNG-run auto-rickshaws and heavy vehicles, they [pedestrians] contribute to road accidents massively as they risk their lives while crossing roads.”
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) Director (Road Safety) Sheikh Md Mahbub-E-Rabbani said they have been training heavy vehicle drivers with the aim of reducing road fatalities.
“On the occasion of Eid, we will intensify our drives against reckless driving, as there will be more teams monitoring speedy driving on highways,” he added.
Voicing tough action against three-wheelers plying on highways, he said the number of accidents increases during daytime mainly because of the abnormal competition among drivers who are promised trip-based commission by transport owners.
Khandaker Enayet Ullah, secretary general of the National Road Transport Owners Association of Bangladesh, vowed to halve the number of road fatalities this Eid.
“Road accidents will reduce significantly, as we are sending our drivers to BRTA for training to improve their professional skills and commitment,” he said.
Stating that transport workers prefer commission, Khandaker Enayet Ullah said: “So we have no choice but to allow them to take Eid trips on the condition of commission.”
He also blamed small vehicles, three-wheelers and pedestrians for the increase in accidents and fatalities.
In a recent interview with Dhaka Tribune, Soames Job, head of the Global Road Safety Facility and Global Lead for Road Safety at the World Bank, said Bangladesh should focus on improving road engineering, enforcement of speed management and bring change in user behaviour to significantly reduce road crash casualties.