Errant drivers cause 58pc fatal traffic accidentsShakhawat Hossain
Reckless driving causes 58 per cent of the road accidents in the country leading to one of the highest traffic fatalities in the world – over 100 deaths per 10,000 motor vehicles, said a public document.
Drivers’ errors were described in the document of the ministry of communications as ‘human factors’ which included speeding, dangerous overtaking and reckless driving.
But there is nothing in the document about whether any such errant drivers have been punished.
The document titled the ‘Road master plan’ was prepared by roads and highways department and submitted to the ministry last week.
Chairman of Nirapad Sarak Chai, a road safety campaign group, Elias Kanchan, told New Age that he had no knowledge of a single driver receiving any major punishment for traffic accidents in last two decades.
Elias Kanchan, also a film actor, has been campaigning for road safety for the last 19 years after he lost his wife in a traffic accident.
He said there were some instances of punishments, but they could at best be called light penalty or token punishment. ‘In most cases errant drivers went unpunished because of weak laws,’ he said.
Shipping minister Shajahan Khan, also executive president of the road transport workers’ federation, turned down the findings of the RHD document saying that only thorough investigation of every traffic accident could reveal the actual percentage.
He told New Age that the document contained inflated statistics. ‘It should be 30 to 35 per cent,’ he said.
Shajahan Khan has drawn flak from different quarters for his apparent defence of errant drivers. He has reportedly opposed a provision for tough punishment for errant drivers in a proposed law.
The document revealed that the number of fatalities was on the rise, and Bangladesh had one of the world’s highest fatality rates in traffic accidents – over 100 deaths per 10,000 motor vehicles.
The fatality rate is at least 50 times the rates in Western Europe and North America, where the rates are in fact declining. The fatality rates per 10,000 motor vehicles in some other Asian countries are: 4 in Malaysia and 12 in India.
Quoting a study by the Accident Research Centre, the RHD document said the most common type of
accident is ‘hit pedestrian’ (43.7 per cent), rear end collision (16.4 per cent), head-on collision (13.3 per cent), and overturning (9.4 per cent).
‘The four types account for nearly 83 per cent of the traffic accidents,’ it said.
In the last four days, 27 persons were killed in traffic accidents throughout the country.
Twelve of a family died on May 30 when a speeding truck rammed a microbus on the Dhaka-Mawa highway. Four people were killed in separate road accidents on May 31 and eight members of a family died on June 1 after a microbus and bus collided head-on on the Cox’s Bazar-Chittagong highway. Another head-on collision between a CNG-run auto-rickshaw and a pickup truck left the auto-rickshaw driver and his two passengers dead in Baralekha upazila in Moulvibazar on June 2.
According to the document, the others human factors are carelessness of road users, ignorance of traffic regulations and ineffective or inefficient enforcement of the law.
Another 34 per cent accidents are related to adverse road conditions and roadside environment, including poorly detailed design of junctions and road sections, including road signage.
The remaining eight per cent could be attributed to mechanical faults or defective motor vehicles and conflicting use of roads.
Further analysis of the ARC accident data revealed that nearly 37 per cent of the accidents occurred on national highways, 12 per cent on regional highways and 15 per cent on zilla and upazila roads.
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