Even though the homebound trip for the people, before Eid-ul-Fitr, was quite safe this year and rarely an accident was heard of, the return journey could not have been that much secure. Within this week alone, at least 40 people were killed and scores of others were injured in separate road accidents in 12 districts, leaving a big question over the capacity of the country’s so-called highways. Frequent road accidents that do not only cause the deaths of so many innocent passengers but also shatter thousands of families and their dreams lead us to question the roles of the authorities supposed to ensure safe roads. Everyone, during each accident, seems to care little about the death of ‘others.’ This is absolutely shameful.
The gradually deteriorating situation of road accidents in Bangladesh now appears as one of the greatest social concerns. Each year, at least three thousand fatalities and an equal number of minor and severe injuries occur on roads and highways. Therefore, the predicament regarding road safety by international standards is very critical in the country. It seems either we have failed to make the authorities understand or they might have turned blind and deaf to the very fact that minimizing road accidents and casualties is possible through efficient and synchronised safety policies and actions that require a great deal of developments in relevant sectors. Reducing and controlling vehicular speed, promoting safety for pedestrians and non-motorists as a priority, treating known black spots and black sites on streets, introducing road safety audit process, addressing the over-involvement of vehicles in accidents, and catering for non-motorised and slow-moving vehicles on roadways remain core issues to be taken care of. More importantly, vehicular standards and fitness requirements need to be frequently audited by a specialised government cell with intensified traffic regulations and safety conscious behaviour. Unfortunately, adequate research on road accidents is hardly conducted in the country. This is mainly because a strong data collection system is yet to be introduced at the government level.
Road accidents can be counted in numbers but the social cost of each accident can scarcely be assessed. We must find out specific measures to avoid lives being wasted on the roads. The more important issues are road safety impact assessment, road safety audit, network management and safety inspections. Developing states like Bangladesh have always been slow moving in devising and adopting such an approach that incorporates all these core issues to bring down high accident rates to the least. We must stop nurturing that tendency and ensure commuters, pedestrians, in fact everybody, a secure road communication system. That is not a hard thing to do, is it?