Road accidents kill highest number of students in 2022

Road accidents in 2022
Prothom Alo illustration

Students account 16 per cent or the highest number of the deaths caused by road accidents across the country in 2022, with least three students losing their lives on road every day.

Students waged a nationwide road safety movement in 2018 and they returned home after the government gave them various promises on reducing road fatalities, but roads are yet to become safe.

According to the platform working on road accident Road Safety Foundation, 7,713 people were killed in road accidents in 2022, with most of them dying in bike accidents. Of the deaths, 1,237 people or 16 per cent were students. December saw the highest 142 deaths while April witnessed the lowest 63 deaths. As many as 107 students died in May, 104 in July, and 123 students in October.

On the other hand, all discussions on road accident are concentrated on Dhaka, with policymakers of the government including ministers and lawmakers giving all promises from Dhaka. Yet, Dhaka sees a rising trend of road crash as 27 per cent of road accidents occurred in Dhaka division in 2022. Dhaka district also witnessed the highest number of road accidents and fatalities.

Transport experts said the government is not taking steps on road safety as much as they are promising. The negligence is visible in many government initiatives. The government knows what to do to reduce road accidents and ensure road safety, but the government is reluctant to implement its promises to serve the interest of several individuals and groups.

Organizations working on road accident said poor, low-income and middle-income people are mostly the victims of road accidents. Eighty-one per cent of road crash victims were working people aged 18-65 years. In most cases, people killed or injured in road accidents were the main or lone earner of the family, thus, these families face financial hardship. Road accident causes an annual damage of over Tk 350 billion in human resources.

On 24 November 2021, a garbage truck of Dhaka South City Corporation (DNCC) ran over Naim Hasan, a student of Notre Dame College. Speaking to Prothom Alo on Saturday night over mobile phone, his father Shah Alam said, “Those who lose a beloved ones understand the pain. Naim’s mother always speaks about our son. We have been ill mourning the death of our son. The government made such many promises. Yet, death on roads did not drop, and that is not acceptable.”

Students took to streets from 29 July to 8 August of 2018 demanding safe roads. New Road Transport Act was passed. Since situation does not change, student waged movement on road safety in various places of the country in 2022. Yet, situation gets worse than before.

Rafiqul Islam consols his 9-year-old daugther afte his wife Sabina Yeasmin is killed in a road accident in Mirpur, Dhaka on 29 March 2022 while she was taking thier two children to school.
Sazid Hossain

The Accident Research Institute (ARI) of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) prepared an assessment on socio-economic damage of the people killed and injured in road crashes as well as their dependants.

Road accident, according to ARI, caused damage worth about Tk 1.09 trillion between 2018 and 2021 while roach crashes, according to Road Safety Foundation, damaged human resources worth over Tk 180 billion in 2022.

Dhaka division sees more accidents

According to Nirapad Sarak Chai (NISCHA) and Road Safety Foundation, Dhaka division saw the highest number of road accidents and death last year - 27 per cent. Dhaka division recorded the highest 1,841 deaths, followed by Chattogram division while Sylhet division saw the lowest number of deaths.

Dhaka district topped the list of road accidents and deaths last year, with 454 road crashes and 891 deaths while Chattogram district saw 310 road accidents and 347 deaths, according to Nirapad Sarak Chai.

Accidents and deaths occurred more on various divisional and district roads connecting with Dhaka. According to Nirapad Sarak Chai, more deaths occurred on Dhaka-Chattogram, Dhaka-Rajshahi, Dhaka-Khulna, Dhaka-Sylhet, Dhaka-Aricha and Dhaka-Mymensingh highways, with road accidents killing highest 144 people on Dhaka-Chattogram last year.

Movement of more vehicles causes more roach accidents in Dhaka division. According to latest data of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), there are 5.6 million vehicles, including over 4 million motorcycles, in the country as of 2022.

Motorcycle turns lethal

Motorcycle accidents have increased in the country for the past couple of years. Motorcycle accidents rose by 42 per cent. In most cases, truck, covered van, pick-up van and bus hit, ran over or collided with motorcycles.

According to three organisations working on road safety, 40 per cent of bikers were solely responsible for accidents in 2022. These organisations are Nirapad Sarak Chai, Road Safety Foundation and Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity.

Road Safety Foundation executive director Saidur Rahman thinks lack of knowledge on traffic rules and violation of traffic laws among bikers increases road accidents.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, Saidur Rahman said a major portion of bikers is juvenile and youth, who drive recklessly causing accidents and involving others; reckless drive has increased massively under the patronisation of criminalised politics.

In many cases, bikers do not follow rules while driving on highway, regional highway and rural roads. Both bikers and riders do not wear helmet and violate rules on more than one pillion rider. Unregistered motorcycles move frequently in district and upazila level and many people have no training on bike driving.

People working on road safety said accurate data is the first prerequisite to reduce road accidents, but the government has no accurate data. Not all accidents are reported in media. Other than death, many accidents and news on people suffering disability are not recorded. Actual number of accidents and deaths is more. According to World Health Organization, road accident kills 25,000 people in Bangladesh annually.

According to organisations working on road accident statistics, youths and students are mostly victims of motorcycle accidents.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, BUET’s Accident Research Institute former director professor Moazzem Hossain said death of students dominates the road accident statistics because they have more movement. There is no way out of this disarray unless initiative is taken to change entire road management. Discipline is not only a matter of money but also good governance. The government must take initiative to bring discipline in the road sector, he added.

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Hasanul Banna