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Rules of the road

  • Published at 12:35 pm March 19th, 2017
Rules of the road

“Five killed in a head-on collision.” “Three killed by a truck.” “Two schoolboys run over while crossing road.” “Five members of a family killed in a road crash.”

These have become mere sentences in our everyday news which, honestly, do not hold the shock value like they did in the past. But the families who have lost their loved ones are the only ones burdened with the pain of such unexpected and sudden loss.

The pain is unbearable when a person has to hear news of his/her child’s early death due to someone’s recklessness behind the wheel.

If we closely study the road accidents which occur in our country, we will find that most of them are not really accidents per se -- because, for a catastrophe to be classified as an “accident,” it is implied that all the necessary measures/precautions were taken by the motorist.

In the case of most of our road accidents, we can point to a motorist’s carelessness (bordering on callousness) as the cause of the fatality. And when careless behaviour causes death, it should not be acceptable by any means and we should not disregard the issue just by saying “it was an accident” or just by paying a small sum to the victim’s family.

We need to study and discuss the root causes of this problem and find an effective way to resolve such man-made catastrophes.

In a head-on collision, if both drivers are responsible, then the chances of the collision occurring in the first place reduce drastically. If both pedestrians and drivers were careful, then no one would ever get run over by a truck. Responsibility and accountability apply to both sides of the equation.

Studies reveal that 83.50% of the accidents were caused by negligence on the part of motorists and 1.1 % of the accidents were caused by bad roads -- if this isn’t a case for how important driver behaviour is to road safety, I don’t know what is

I strongly believe that responsible behaviour from both motorists and pedestrians can drastically reduce the numbers of road accidents. And yes, it doesn’t cost much to demonstrate responsible behaviour while on the road.

Social awareness about driving safely, accountability, and traffic regulations should be initiated and made widespread, the cost of which should be borne by government agencies and NGOs specifically concerned about road safety.

In 2015, according to Nischa, there were 2,626 road accidents and 5,003 deaths -- which is something of an improvement, since 2014 saw the figures at 2,713 and 6,582 respectively.

WHO and World Bank studies reveal that 83.50% of the accidents were caused by negligence on the part of motorists and that only 1.1% of the accidents were caused by bad roads -- if this isn’t a case for how important driver behaviour is to road safety, I don’t know what is.

Several other studies also attest to the main causes of road accidents in our country being the following: Reckless driving, speeding, over-loading (both people and cargo), defective vehicles, lack of knowledge and awareness of traffic regulations, hazardous roads, bad/badly-trained drivers, poor implementation of the traffic system, driving under the influence, not wearing seat-belts, jay-walking, vehicles driven by helpers/apprentice/under-aged persons, and the usage of cellphones whilst driving.

Out of 13 major causes, only three are out of the general public’s control.

I would like to request the agencies concerned to make a deep dive on this issue and design social campaigns on responsible driving to help the country reduce the number of untimely deaths.

Lives can never be measured in monetary terms, but attempting to do so by measuring loss in GDP due to these deaths will definitely give them more reason to save lives and prevent road accidents.

SM Mokaddes Ahmed Dipu is a Lecturer of Marketing, Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University.

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