Unsafe Road Action Imperative To Avert Death
Md. Shafiqul Islam :
The death procession in road accident has made the nation extremely worried. It has now become a routine phenomenon in our day to day life. Every year when Eid, Puja, and other social festivals come, the number of deaths in road accidents increases. Road accidents create panic in our lives. We all want safe roads, but those involved in transportation are sceptical. If they wanted safe roads, there would not be so many road accidents every day. When I go out of the house to go by car, it seems that there are doubts about whether I will return home or not. We celebrate National Safe Roads Day on 22nd October every year across the country intending to ensure safety on the road. But the reason behind the government's approval of this day is not reflected in most of the cases. Many people have killed in road accidents every year and news of road accidents injures us every day.
According to the media, one and a half percent of Bangladesh's GDP is lost annually due to road accidents, which is equivalent to five thousand crore taka. We have lost 55,000 people in road accidents in the last 15 years. And the number of lawsuits due to road accidents is more than 75 thousand. But the trial is not very effective.
As per record of Bangladesh Police, 2,211 people are killed and 2,113 are injured in 2,291 accidents up to July 2020. In 2019, at least 4,138 people were killed and 4,411 injured in 4,147 accidents, which was an increase from 2,635 killed and 1,920 injured in 2,609 accidents in 2018.
Over 53% of road accidents are caused by speeding. And 37 percent of accidents happen due to the reckless attitude of drivers. In other words, 90 percent of accidents happen due to reckless attitude and speed of driving. Competitive attitude and carelessness of pedestrians are responsible for 10 percent of road accidents. About 50 percent of road accidents occur on national highways. Many unfit vehicles are running on the road, which is largely responsible for road accidents. Other causes of road accidents include excessive loading and overtaking of drivers, driving for long periods without rest, lack of vigilance among drivers of small vehicles especially motorcyclists, violation of traffic laws in long-distance roads and populated areas.
Besides, there are weaknesses in the process of getting a driver's license and their lack of formal training leads to road accidents. The maximum punishment for causing death by reckless and careless driving was a jail term of seven years before 1985. But in 1985, the government reduced the term of imprisonment to three years through an amendment in the pressure of truck driver's protests. In the new act, if anybody gets seriously injured or killed in a motor vehicle-related accident, it will be considered as an offense under the relevant sections of the act and the maximum punishment being a death sentence.
However, there are substantial doubts among people in various circles about the effective enforcement of the new laws. Some people think the laws will be enforced selectively, while others think the tendency of bribes given increasing to avoid the punishment for the offense. Transport owners, workers, and drivers are taking advantage of the new road transport law. Drivers are not afraid to drive recklessly. But there is no attempt to bring reckless speed control and discipline on the road.
Road safety videos should be displayed at various important places including all bus terminals of the country to stop road accidents. Also, leaflets, posters, and stickers should be distributed to make transport owners, drivers, passengers, and pedestrians aware. The road is a matter of safety, so safe action is necessary. For road safety, new and up-to-date laws need to be enacted so that motorists are afraid to drive recklessly. Training needs to be arranged for everyone involved in transportation so that people can gain an idea about the value of life, professional responsibility. Also, the issuance of fake driving licenses through brokers or lobbying should be stopped.
In case of an accident, an investigation committee should be formed and the culprits should be punished by publishing a quick investigation report. No matter what class of people in society are the victims of the accident, every human being is important to us. But I don't know if there has been any exemplary trial of an accident. And the culture of impunity, the weakness of the law is not diminishing the death on the road; on the contrary, road accidents are on the rise. Besides, the police need to be more active in law. We also have responsibilities as citizens. Not only drivers are responsible for road accidents, but also roadside shops and school establishments, passengers, pedestrians, children running across the road are responsible. To protect the people from this deplorable condition, the government can amend the law and should give importance to enforcing the law.
(Mr. Shafiqul is Assistant Professor, Dept. of Accounting & Information Systems, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Mymensingh and Ph.D. Fellow, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law,