Death on highways


Just within a few hours of the news that 25 persons had been killed in road accidents in a matter of 24 hours, reports came in of 12 more people killed on the highway at Narsingdi. Such fatal road accidents have become commonplace. Is there any accurate account of how many people are actually dying in such accidents on the roads all over the country, how many people are being maimed and crippled for life? Various authorities have varying reports.
The police state that two to three thousand people die in road accidents in the country every year. The non-government organisation Jatri Kalyan Samity or passenger welfare association puts this number at six to seven thousand. According to the accident research unit of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), the number of people killed in road accidents in the country annually stands at 12 to 14 thousand. The World Health Organisation (WHO) puts this at over 20 thousand.
The police have the lowest number. The passenger welfare association bases their data on media reports. If the police kept an eye on the news reports, the number of road accidents in their records would have doubled.
If correct statistics concerning the accidents and their fatalities are not collected, then it will be difficult to grasp the enormity of the matter. Reducing the statistics amounts to evading responsibility. There is no scope to deny that road accidents are an important national problem in Bangladesh. But the traffic police, BRTA, the roads and highways division, and the communications ministry are all displaying abysmal neglect of the issue.
Experts have pinpointed the main causes of road accidents. They have even discussed ways and means of addressing these causes and bringing the number of accidents down. But there are no initiatives to take cognizance of these recommendations. So will death on the highways continue unabated?

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