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Dhaka Tribune

The death toll rises

The culture of impunity must end

Update : 16 Jan 2019, 11:59 PM

Bangladesh has some of the most dangerous roads in the world.

When it comes to road fatalities, the numbers paint a grim picture, with last year witnessing a 7% rise in road deaths -- and this has happened in spite of a movement demanding road safety that swept across the nation.

In 2018 alone, a whopping 4,580 road accidents took place, killing 1,735 people, a number which includes 679 children.

This senseless loss of life is unacceptable in any country, and most certainly in a country that has very recently renewed its pledge to make roads safer.

There seems to have been very little follow-up to the promises of scaling up efforts to enforce traffic rules, check drivers and vehicles for fitness, and hold offending drivers accountable for their actions.

No doubt, bus companies are the biggest culprits when it comes to deaths on the road, and it is of the greatest importance that these repeat offenders are brought in line first.

Firstly, the culture of impunity that lets bus drivers and their owners go free after accidents must end; many drivers ply the roads with no regard for human life, and they do so because they do not fear consequences.

Many bus drivers are underaged, unlicensed, or carry fake licenses, and many of them are overworked or sleep deprived -- these individuals should not be allowed behind a wheel in the first place.

It is a fact that private cars, though not without blame, comprise of a relatively small percentage of overall road fatalities; hence, fix the bus problem, and other vehicles will come in line.

Last year’s unacceptable death toll should serve as a wake-up call for the authorities -- to carry on as usual is simply not an option at this point.

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