Road accidents have become a serious national problem in Bangladesh. The last few days have been a few hundred people injured in road crashes, with 52 being killed in just a matter of 24 hours. Every single day there is news of people being killed and injured in road accidents. It is as if dying in the streets has become an inevitable evil from which there is no hope of release.
But such a defeatist attitude cannot be accepted. Life is full of problems, but nothing is unsolvable. Fortunately, the prime minister has taken the situation into cognizance. At the cabinet meeting on Monday, the prime minister Sheikh Hasina issued a number of directives to bring a halt to such road accidents. This is significant, indicating that the top level of government is focussed on the matter.
One of the prime minister’s directives is that no driver can drive a vehicle for more than five hours at a stretch. That is a salient point. These accidents, after all, occur mostly due to the driver’s fault, their reckless driving and remaining at the wheel for long stretches of time. So this directive must be followed. The owners of the trucks, buses and other vehicles must also ensure that the drivers do not remain on road duty for extended periods. During Eid, bus drivers on the long distant routes often remain at the wheel for 10 to 20 hours without sleep. This must be stopped.
Secondly, the prime minister said that the drivers and helpers must be trained. This is important. Accidents often occur as the drivers and helpers are untrained and unskilled. They must be given institutional training.
Many people die also while crossing the streets, slipping in between vehicles, particularly in Dhaka city. The prime minister has pointed to this too. She stressed using zebra crossings and avoiding randomly crossing the road.
If the prime minister’s directives are followed, it will be possible to reduce anarchy on the roads.
Researchers and experts have many recommendations to reduce road accidents. These have been submitted to BRTA, the roads division and other relevant authorities. Now active implementation is required.
It has been reported that the prime minister has given the responsibility to three ministers to carry out her directives. We hope the minister do so. We believe that a brake can be put on road accidents with the concerted efforts of traffic police, transport owners, transport workers, passengers and all concerned.