Shafiqul Islam Dewan, a physician at the emergency unit of NITOR, told Prothom Alo that a large portion among the newly admitted patients, who came to NITOR for treatment after being injured in accidents, are victims of motorcycle accident. And some 90 per cent of them are young. Motorcycle accidents cause more bleeding and more broken bones in the legs.
According to the figures of the Road Safety Foundation, a total of 830 people have been killed in motorcycle accidents in the first four months this year. In 2019, some 945 people were killed in motorcycle accidents. That number increased to 1,463 in 2020. A total of 2,214 people were killed in motorcycle accidents in 2021. The number of motorcycle accidents increased by 50 per cent and subsequent casualties increased by 51 per cent in 2021 as compared to previous year. Some 75 per cent of the people killed in motorcycle accidents are aged between 14 to 45 years.
A number of patients were seen waiting on the floor in front of the emergency surgery room on Sunday. Most of them are victims of motorcycle accidents.
Speaking to Prothom Alo, Barkatullah, one of the patients waiting for treatment, said his right leg had been broken in several places. He also had a head injury.
His brother Hemayetullah told Prothom Alo that there was a collision between a motorcycle and a pickup. Barkatullah went out with the motorcycle for a drive with two of his friends. He had surgery and a rod has been inserted into his leg.
Shafiqul Islam was going to his office in Mirpur from his house in Hemayetpur of Savar on his motorcycle. He works as a computer operator at the land registration office. On his way to office, he collided with a CNG-run auto rickshaw in front of Mirpur Bangla College. He spoke to this correspondent while undergoing treatment at NITOR.
He told Prothom Alo, “I collided with the auto-rickshaw while it was taking a U-turn. My left hand is broken in two places. The physician had said that I would need surgery and it would take six months to recover fully.”
In most cases it is seen that the motorcycle riders are not abiding by the rules while driving in highways, local routes and rural roads. The drivers and the riders do not wear helmets either. Even the law of not riding more than two people on a motorcycle is also ignored. Even unregistered motorcycles are quite common on the roads at district and upazila level. Many of the riders do not have any training to ride a motorcycle.
On the night of Eid on 3 May, young businessman Tanim Chowdhury was injured in a motorcycle accident at Brahmanbaria Sadar. His relatives admitted him to the NITOR at noon on Sunday. Tanim's left elbow and wrist are broken. Doctors say Tanim would need two separate surgeries.
Speaking to Prothom Alo Tanim said, “The motorcycle was running at a fairly good speed. All of a sudden, a man came in front of my motorcycle. As soon as I pushed the brake, I fell.”
The availability of motorcycles is one of the main reasons behind the increase in accidents according to the organisations working on road safety. According to the figures of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), the number of registered motorcycles was below 1.5 million in the country as of 2015. But, the number is around 3.6 million now. More than 300,000 motorcycles have been registered every year since 2016.
Md Hadiuzzaman, director of Accident Research Institute (ARI) at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), said, “Apart from the registered motorcycles, at least 1.5 million unregistered motorcycles run on the streets in the towns and rural areas. No country can make motorcycles available in this way. Motorcycles are becoming an alternative due to the lack of importance given to public transport. It will increase the number of accidents in the future. Motorcycle riding with passengers on the highway should be completely discouraged. At the same time, the government needs to ensure that motorcyclists wear standard helmets and obey traffic laws.”
*This report appeared on the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu