Aftermath of a road accident when a car carrying 3 of a family collided with a railway flyover railing in Kashiani upazila of Gopalganj on July 30, 2020
In 2020, a total of 5,397 accidents on roads, railways and waterways killed 7,317 people and injured 9,021 others
As many as 6,686 people lost their lives and 8,600 were injured in a total of 4,891 road accidents in 2020 in Bangladesh.
The figures were revealed in the Bangladesh Passengers Welfare Association’s (BPWA) annual road accident monitoring report for 2020.
It means on average, roughly 18 people were killed every day in road accidents across the country.
BPWA General Secretary Mozammel Haque Chowdhury presented the report at a press conference held at the Jatiya Press Club on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, 318 people were killed and 79 injured in 323 railway accidents last year, the report noted.
At least 313 died, 342 sustained injuries and 371 went missing in 183 accidents on waterways, it added.
Cumulatively, a total of 5,397 accidents on roads, railways and waterways killed 7,317 people and left 9,021 others injured.
The BPWA report found that although the number of road accidents on regional highways had increased by 6.78% in 2020 compared to 2019, it decreased by 3.45% on national highways, 0.16% at rail crossings and 2.19% on feeder roads.
Almost 57,000 died in last two decades in road crashes
In the last two decades, no fewer than 56,987 people were killed in 58,208 road accidents across Bangladesh, according to the Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet).
To put it another way, almost 8 people lost their lives on roads each day in the last 20 years.
Experts said small vehicles — defying a ban — ply highways and often collide with large vehicles, which leads to a staggering number of fatalities on roads.
Two other big reasons behind the accidents are disorderly movement of vehicles and the reckless attitude of drivers, they said.
Drivers are, directly or indirectly, responsible for 90% of the road accidents, according to the ARI.
According to data collected by the ARI from 2001 to 2020, the figures for road accidents and consequent deaths have increased gradually. The numbers started to decrease in the 2009-2014 period but have almost doubled since 2015.
The ARI said 4,357 people were killed and 7,226 injured in 3,939 road accidents in 2019. In comparison, 3,079 road accidents in 2020 left 3,545 dead and 4,450 injured.
Also Read - Level-crossings: A death trap like no other
The year 2020 saw 21% fewer accidents and 18% fewer deaths compared to 2019, which can be mostly attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic and the transportation restrictions imposed because of it.
Although the overall number of accidents had dropped, the accident rate had remained stable, said an assistant professor at the ARI.
“In 2019, there were 328 [road] accidents on average per month. Meanwhile, 342 such incidents occurred every month in 2020, excluding the three-month lockdown period. So, it has actually increased slightly,” he added.
The Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) thinks that it is possible to bring back order on roads and curb accidents by enacting the 111 recommendations put forth by the National Road Safety Council.
43% of road crashes occur on national highways
The ARI said 43% of the total road accidents occur on national highways. The reasons behind this are driving without a driver’s licence, careless and faulty driving and the plying of three-wheelers and motorcycles on highways.
The number of vehicles in the country is about 3.3 million, according to the BRTA. Drivers of about 2 million of these vehicles have driving licences; the remaining vehicles are driven by unlicensed drivers.
An analysis of the last five years’ data shows that the highest number of accidents occurred on the Chittagong-Dhaka-Mymensingh Highway.
Talking about a potential solution regarding accidents on highways, BPWA General Secretary Mozammel said it was possible to reduce accidents on the Jatrabari-Kanchpur Bridge Highway by rectifying some of the faults in road management.
“Several highways have been turned into 2- to 6-lane roads. Order can be established on highways if separate lanes are designated for different types of vehicles, like one for heavy vehicles and another one for cars and so on,” he added.
‘Accidents to drop by 30-40% within 2024’
Road accidents would likely be reduced by 30-40% if the 111 recommendations of the National Road Safety Council were properly implemented, according to the ARI.
BRTA Director (road safety) Sheikh Muhammad Mahbub-e-Rabbani said: “Compared to other countries, the number of road accidents in our country is decreasing now. The National Road Safety Council will work for the next 4 years to control and protect the roads in three phases.”
“Our activities were delayed by a year due to the pandemic situation,” he added.