Traffic signal violation: Transport act should be sternly enforced

Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) mayor Atiqul Islam has raised an alarming issue regarding the violation of traffic signals in Gulshan-2 area of the capital over the past month (June). Approximately 300,000 vehicles have been reported to disobey traffic signals in this specific location. The mayor stated that artificial intelligence is being tested to control the movements of vehicles at the Gulshan-2 intersection.

The issue of traffic irregularities and disorder in Dhaka has persisted for many years. Flouting traffic signals by 300,000 vehicles in a single area over the course of a month can only hint at the overall situation in Dhaka city. Notably, millions of vehicles move daily in Dhaka city.

This includes heavy vehicles to medium and light vehicles. In addition to conventional rickshaws, there are also battery-operated rickshaws. However, they are not permitted on the main roads in the Gulshan area. It is evident that violations of traffic regulations and accidents are more prevalent in areas where rickshaws operate on major roads.

It is unfortunate that despite 52 years of independence, Dhaka city, with a population of fifteen million, has failed to establish a modernised traffic system. In 2013, a significant amount of money was spent on installing digital signals on Dhaka's roads, but even that has not proven to be fully effective. Manual intervention by the police is still necessary to regulate the flow of vehicles. If this is an example of a digital or smart Bangladesh, then it is difficult to find words to express our disappointment.

Road accidents have emerged as a serious problem in Bangladesh. One of the reasons for this is not obeying traffic rules. The number of vehicles in Bangladesh is also increasing with the population. We could not develop a sustainable and modern management required for that increased traffic.

According to the Road Transport Act, 2018, fine for violating traffic signals has been increased from Tk 500 to a maximum of Tk 10,000. Additionally, the fine for driving a motorbike without helmet has been increased from Tk 200 to a maximum of Tk 10,000. Drivers will have to pay a maximum fine of Tk 5,000 in case the seat belt is not fastened or for using mobile phone while driving.

The problem is that a quarter of transport owners and workers opposed this act at the time of its formulation. They prevented the authorities to implement the law for a long time. It is alleged that influential and powerful people often flout traffic law. The situation has not changed much even after the protest carried out by students in demand of safe roads in 2018.

Those who violated the traffic signals in Gulshan-2 as revealed by the DNCC generating through artificial intelligence should be brought to book and held accountable. Not only in Gulshan-2, but the people flouting traffic rules in entire Dhaka city can be identified and punished through artificial intelligence. No matter how stern the traffic control laws are, if they are not enforced or those who broke the law go unpunished, the order on roads will not be restored.