Public transport services should display driver information for the public
Road accidents have become a serious issue in Bangladesh. Lives are lost on our roads and highways almost every day. The number of highway accidents in our country is exponentially higher than in most countries.
Yet, even after so much national attention and outcry, the conditions on our roads and highways are worsening. One of the major causes of these accidents is the failure of drivers to abide traffic laws, such as the speed limit. Some even drive under the influence.
The main reason the situation is not improving is because offending drivers are seldom penalized -- they get away scot-free, which further encourages similar behaviour in other drivers. If we can put these perpetrators on trial and enforce punitive actions, then it will warn the others to drive with caution and follow traffic rules and regulations.
After most road accidents in our country, what we observe most commonly is that the driver flees the scene of the accident. Since valid documentation is not always available in Bangladesh, it becomes very difficult to track down the driver, because not much information about the driver is known.
As a result, it becomes very difficult to file any charges against the offending driver. In addition, sometimes the bus companies are also reluctant to share information on the driver. In this way, drivers at fault most of the time, get away with their crimes.
To prevent this from happening, a law should be enacted where it would be mandatory for every type of public transport, such as buses, auto-rickshaws, and taxis, to share the information of the driver.
For example, in Thailand, the driver’s information is displayed on all types of public transport such as buses, mini-buses (used as an inter-city and intra-city public transport), and also on taxis. Some of the information that is shared includes the driver’s name, driver’s photo, the driver’s license number, date of birth, contact number, etc.
Thus, if the driver’s information is shared this way, then, even if a driver flees the scene after committing a crime, the passengers, media, and most importantly, law enforcement agencies will have information about the driver.
As a result, it will be much easier to track the driver down and file charges. The media and the public can also play a role by sharing the driver’s information. This will make it very difficult for drivers to start driving again or hide.
In addition, if it is made mandatory to share driver’s license numbers on public transports, then hopefully it will also prevent unlicensed drivers from operating public transport, which is currently a huge problem in Bangladesh.
The law to display driver information will make it easier for law enforcement agencies to catch drivers at fault, but this law alone will not solve the high rate of road accidents -- and will become ineffective -- if at the end of the day, drivers are not penalized for their misdeeds.
At the same time, steps should also be taken to eliminate the shortage of drivers nationwide.
Thus, it is absolutely necessary to penalize negligent drivers for the sake of a safe public transport system and a safe road network.
It is now high time to start working to improve the road safety situation in the country, as the rate of traffic accidents, currently, is the sign of nothing short of an epidemic.
Ridwan Quaium is a transport engineer working in Thailand.