Saturday, June 15, 2024

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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Hell on wheels

Road accidents have taken too much away from us

Update : 04 Dec 2022, 01:40 PM

According to the World Health Ranking, Bangladesh ranks 106th out of 183 countries with the highest number of road accidents. By looking at the statistics of BUET's accident research institutes, it can be seen that the amount is increasing daily. A study found that between 5,000 and 6,000 people each year are killed in car accidents. In 2021, there were a total of 5,371 traffic incidents nationwide, according to data from the Road Safety Foundation. Also, there were a minimum of 6,284 and additional injuries totaling 7,468 persons. Considering these facts, as of right now, the numbers might be higher in 2022.

On December 2, Bangladesh witnessed another tragic accident. A woman who was stuck under a car thrown from a motorcycle inside the Dhaka University campus was dragged for about a kilometer by a car driven by a former assistant professor of the International Department of Dhaka University. After being taken to the hospital, doctors declared the woman dead. Later, university students held a torch procession in front of the vice-chancellor's building and demanded security on the campus. However, whether the driver was intoxicated and the murder's motive are both unknown at this time.

The news is littered with stories of road accidents, whether on the TV or the papers. According to statistics, as a result of road accidents, on average, one-and-a-half percent of Bangladesh's GDP is lost due to road accidents, which amounts to around Tk5,000 crore. Yet, it is regrettable that the majority of the accidents which have occurred in recent years were not reported on the news. It's all but a given for us to expect increasing numbers of road accidents year on year.

This all stems from the fact that our country's road management situation is still quite precarious, despite all the development we have undergone. Dangerous numbers of unfit vehicles continue to ply on our roads and drivers in general are failing to adhere to traffic laws, all of these endanger the lives of bystanders on our roads.

Decreasing the number of road accidents is not an impossible task -- it necessitates coordinated efforts and appropriate implementation on the side of both the people and the government. Accidents often occur on the nation's roads and highways due to drivers parking their cars wherever they like, setting up rickshaws, vans, and taxi stands, throwing trash in the middle of the road, and an inability to complete road construction projects in a timely manner. It's clearly a problem with a multitude of factors at play.

To prevent traffic accidents, drivers must first be trained properly. If enough driving schools were to be developed, traffic accidents could be reduced significantly. Furthermore, traffic laws should be made clear to drivers. Drivers must regularly submit to drug tests to ensure they are fit to operate a vehicle. Mobile phone usage while driving should be strictly prohibited and be made a criminal offense if need be. In order to regulate speeding, necessary speed-measuring equipment should be installed on our roads. To minimize collisions, it's crucial to be rid of the overtaking mindset among drivers.

To prevent traffic accidents, improving the nation's entire road network is vital. It's time to cease unnecessary road excavations. A driving license must only be granted based solely on evaluating the applicant's driving abilities. Government oversight is required to ensure there is no fraud or corruption. Regardless of their political background, providing fair trials for individuals responsible for traffic accidents is critical. 

The World Health Organization reports that 1.3 million individuals worldwide pass away as a result of traffic accidents each year. Most nations incur losses of up to 3% of GDP due to road accidents. However, 93% of accidents occur in low and middle-income countries, which account for 60% of the world's total road traffic. Meanwhile, according to a World Bank report, only 0.5% of the world's total number of vehicles ply on the roads or highways of Bangladesh. According to the Accident Research Institute BUET, at least 56,987 people have died in road accidents in the last two decades. That is, an average of eight people have lost their lives every day in the last 20 years.

According to the Accident Research Institute, drivers are directly or indirectly responsible for 90% of all accidents. People lose their lives in road accidents and suffer severe losses in terms of their physical, emotional, economic, and social well-being.

No matter how difficult it may be to prevent accidents on the road, we need all parties involved, from drivers to bystanders to our government, to step up in curbing their numbers. We have lost too much and many lives to this most pressing of national issues.

Apurba Mogumder is a freelance contributor.

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