Road accidents are on the rise on roads and highways in different parts of the country, killing, injuring and maiming many people every day.
Experts have identifiedviolation of traffic rules, unskilled drivers, unfit vehicles, poor road condition and a lack of public awareness as the main reasons for the rise in road crashes.
Observing a particular day as Road Safety Day will not help reduce deaths in road accidents, they said.
Proper steps have to be taken, especially road infrastructure has to be improved to address the issue as Bangladesh is one of the countries with high fatal road crash rate, the experts observed.
Talking to the daily sun, Professor Dr Moazzem Hossain, director of Accident Research Institute (ARI) at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), said the extent of losses in road accidents is two percent of the country’s GDP or around Tk 40,000 crore a year.
According to a report of the National Committee to Protect Shipping, Roads and Railways (NCPSRR), a non-government organisation, at least 61,512 people were killed, and 102,618 others were injured in 55,141 road accidents in the country from 2005 to 2017.
NCPSRR said at least 4,284 people, including 516 women and 539 children, were killed and 9,112 others were injured in 3,472 road accidents across the country in 2017.
The number of road accidents and casualties was higher in 2017 compared to 2016. A total of 3,412 people, including 470 women and 453 children were killed and 8,572 others were injured in 2,998 the road accidents in 2016.NCPSRR data show that the number of road accidents soared by 474 or 15.82 percent while the death toll jumped by 872 or 25.56 percent between 2016 and 2017. A total of 6,823 people, including 781 women and 762 children, were killed and 14,026 others were injured in 4,592 road accidents in 2015, according to NCPSRR data.
“But the government’s figures suggest that road accidents kill 2,000-2,500 in Bangladesh a year,” NCPSRR General Secretary Ashis Kumar Dey said.
According to the report of Bangladesh Health Injury Survey (BHIS)-2016, 64 people die every day from injuries suffered in road accidents. A total of 50 adults die from injuries due to road crashes daily, the report suggests.
According to the figures available on the website of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) under the Ministry of Communication, road accident killed 32,404 people, injured 26, 163 in the country from 2005 to 2016 (July).
Mentioning that 5407 buses and minibuses are playing on different routes of Dhaka city, the BRTA report said there are 21,118.739 kilometre roads across the country including 3,790.861 kilometres national highway, 4,206.121 kilometer regional highway and 13,121.757 kilometre district roads.
According to the NCPSRR study report the road accidents are on the rise in the country due to various reasons including reckless driving, violation of traffic rules and regulations on long-route, including densely populated area, lack of implementation of existing law to stop plying of unfit vehicles and unskilled drivers without licences.
NCPSRR also identified reckless driving, a rise in the number of three-wheeler vehicles and motorbikes, overloading and overtaking tendency, ignoring traffic rules and regulation on long routes, long driving hours without any interval, risky turning points and dilapidated roads, plying of unfit vehicles, and locally-made mechanized small vehicles as the key factors causing road accidents.
Talking to the daily sun, Ashis Kumar Dey said lack of proper supervision and control by both the government and non-government authorities concerned and lack of public awareness has been a key reason for the rise in road accidents.
Mentioning that Bangladesh has signed United Nations (UN) declaration to reduce the road accident in half by 2020, he said. “But unfortunately road accidents have taken an alarming turn in Bangladesh,” he added.
Maruf Hossain, member secretary of Transport Committee of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA), said no data about the number of road accidents and casualties can be authentic as all news is not published or broadcasted in news media and police also is not informed about all these incidents.
“Road accidents in Bangladesh has reached an alarming level. But unfortunately, the government is not taking effective initiatives to reduce the number of road accident and casualties. If the government can ensure safety for pedestrians, half of the road crashes will be reduced,” he said.
The Accident Research Institute (ARI) of BUET has developed a project to help reduce road accidents by 50 percent, bring down causalities and cut the economic losses caused by road accidents by Tk 20,000 crore a year, sources said.
A special lab called Operation Control Center (OCC) will be set up under the project, titled “Speed Enforcement, Incident Detection and Emergency System for Safer Bangladesh National Highways,” to provide necessary equipment support for the institute to conduct modern research to reduce the number of road accidents.
The Roads and Highways Department, Highway Police, Fire Service and Civil Defense and Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) will jointly implement the project.
The project aims to stop speeding and carry out prompt rescue operations at the scene of a crash, according to project documents. “The project is currently under process,” the ARI Director said.