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B'desh: Road accidents claim 40k lives in five years

B'desh: Road accidents claim 40k lives in five years

By Mir Afroz Zaman

Dhaka, May 11 (UNI) At least 40,000 people were killed and 600,000 others got crippled in road accidents across the Bangladesh over the last five years, Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) sources told UNI on Friday.

In an interview, BUET director Moazzem Hossain said the country also suffers an economic loss of about Tk 380-billion each year because of road accidents. As per their research findings, Moazzem said, over-speeding is responsible for 53 per cent of casualties in road crashes while careless driving for 38 per cent of fatalities and the rest for other reasons.

He said the incidents of road crashes and casualties can be reduced sharply by installing ‘Radar Speed-enforcement cameras in every two kilometres of national highways and other important roads, enhancing skills of drivers and producing capable drivers by building 100 driving schools across the country and strictly enforcing traffic rules and regulations.

Hossain, also a professor of BUET’s Civil Engineering Department, said the informal vehicles-non- motorised ones, human haulers, motorbikes and three wheelers must be restricted on national highways. The enforcement agencies also need to stop illegal carrying of passengers on the rooftops of buses and in trucks. Putting up correct road sings beside highways and restoring discipline in the transport sector are other crucial steps mentioned by Hossain to prevent road accidents.

“As per data that come from police FIR, around 3,000-4,000 people are killed and 10,000 injured every year across the country. But, if we analyse different studies carried out by various private organisations, including WHO, at least 40,000 people were killed while around 120,000 injured over the last five years in road accidents in Bangladesh. Of the injured, about half of them got crippled,” the ARI director said.

He said the government had set a target to halve the rate of road accidents by 2020 two years back, but it could not take any effective steps in this regard till now.

Quoting a study conducted by the ARI, Moazzem Hossain said the violation of speed limit by divers is contributing to at least 53 per cent of the total road accidents all over the country.

“The government has set safe speed limit on highways at 80km/h as per geometric design standard. But as our highways are not free from local frictions like roadside bazar, shops, and informal vehicles we think it shouldn’t be more than 60km/h. But, most drivers of both the heavy and light vehicles ply their vehicles with a speed in the range of 100- 120km/h on highway as currently there is no field mechanism to detect and punish the speed limit violators,” he said.

Besides, the ARI director said, 38 per cent road accidents take place due to careless driving as most drivers are neither properly trained nor given proper rest in addition to their disobeying attitude towards traffic rules.

As per the global practice, he said, no one should drive more than four hours without a break. “Every driver should take a one-hour rest after driving for four hours. But, drivers here do two shift-duties a day and drive three to four days consecutively taking inadequate rest. That’s why they lose concentration while driving, causing fatal accidents.”

To solve the problems, Hossain said, ‘Radar Speed-enforcement Camera’ can be installed in every one-two kilometres of national highways and other important city and regional roads.

“This camera will be able to sensor the speed and number plate of vehicles even amid dense fog. Those who will violate the speed limit and traffic rules can easily be detected and punished automatically by sending fine ticket through SMS or by other digital means, which will help tremendously reduce the road crashes.”

He said highway police are unable to play any important role in enforcing law and checking road accidents for lack of manpower, proper logistics and technological support. “Now highway police are being used for security reasons as they mostly check vehicles for recovering drugs or maintaining law and order.”

Moazzem Hossain said, everybody blames drivers for any accident but neither the state nor the drivers' workers associations and leaders have taken any step or made any investment for providing them training to enhance their skills and sense of responsibility.

Quoting a research of the ARI, he said the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth will grow at least one percent additionally if the government can halve the road fatalities as the annual accidental loss is Tk 380 billion, which is about 2 per cent of the current GDP.

UNI MAZ KAS SNU 1812

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