Road accidents, according to a study conducted by the Accident Research Centre (ARC) of Buet, claim on average 12,000 lives annually and 64 lives every day.
And unfortunately, we ourselves are also responsible for such deaths occurring. Every day our carelessness can put us in a situation between life and death.
On May 8 this year, I lost a sister and a dear friend and at the same time one of the most valuable people in my life, in a road accident. She passed away in seconds, her car being hit by a minibus. Well, I’ve come to know that there isn’t anyone who has never lost someone precious to them.
But this isn’t about her -- it is about all those people who’ve died in road accidents in Bangladesh in the past decade or so. What stirred me was how easily lives could be taken by the mere carelessness and rashness of people, and that such accidents could have been prevented, and hundreds of lives every year could be saved.
Wearing seatbelts is crucial, which most of us tend to pass on. But who else is going to be responsible for our accidents if not us? Reckless driving and speeding is a major cause.
Seriously, we get that time is money, but is that seriously worth our lives? So, be patient, my dear. Don’t try to overtake other vehicles and try to make way for ambulances when you can, because you just never know when your little bit of patience and selflessness could save someone’s life.
The traffic police of Bangladesh also have a crucial role to play. Speed limits and speed breakers should be set up on all highways along with proper police surveillance. This way, speeding and unstable vehicles can be held accountable.
Increasing the provision of road dividers on highways can help prevent accidents as well. Unstable roads should be maintained and repaired, to be made safer, and perilous locations should have cautioning signs to make drivers more aware, especially the more dangerous roads.
The government should provide proper streetlights on all roads outside as well as inside of Dhaka in order to make driving safer at night and during the rainy season to prevent any possibilities of accidents.
With Bangladesh being a poor country, most of the citizens preferably use public transport -- public buses, rickshaws, vans, etc. Most drivers of these vehicles are underage or incompetent, thus leaving the poor even more vulnerable to these accidents, especially on the highways outside of Dhaka.
Compared to other accidents, most common and frequent are collisions between small vehicles such as motorbikes, rickshaws etc, and larger ones, like buses, trucks, etc.
Then there are those too young to drive but are doing it anyway. Please don’t. The minimum age to obtain a license was set for a reason.
On May 8 this year, I lost a sister and a dear friend and at the same time one of the most valuable people in my life, in a road accident. She passed away in seconds
The incompetence of drivers has been the cause of many accidents this year. Driving without a license should be taken seriously -- those driving buses and mini-buses should be properly trained to drive responsibly.
The media can take a big step in helping by publicising information on driving and road safety. The government and police have to work together on stern punishment for breaking traffic rules.
We as citizens also have a role to play in ensuring road safety. So many accidents can be prevented every day. As educated and fortunate citizens, we can take a step forward by advising and helping those who are less educated than us, such as telling our driver to drive carefully.
A watchful eye
The government, along with the police department, should also keep an eye on the poor and unfortunate children on the streets. They are also our citizens.
Who will be responsible for their lives? Along with these children, pedestrians should also be given road safety education and information.
The government should establish traffic signs and signals whilst the traffic police should help pedestrians cross streets, especially elderly people.
Young citizens can do a lot by helping those who are old or disabled get across roads safely.
During this time of the year, Ramadan particularly, most citizens are in a hurry to visit their hometowns and villages in order to spend Eid with their loved ones.
This eagerness has been the cause of many accidents during Eid for the past decade. Buses, vans, mini-vans, and other automobiles, etc travel at dangerous speeds. What’s worse, many of these vehicles are in terrible condition.
By being just a little cognisant and public-spirited, many accidents can be prevented every day. When a child dies, their entire future dies. It is deplorable for Bangladesh to allow so many of its citizens to perish in road accidents.
Samiha Rashid is a freelance contributor.