The death toll from road accidents decreased by 18% in 2020 compared to the previous year's tally. However, the number of fatalities from the accidents is not negligible.
According to Nirapad Sarak Chai (Nischa) – a platform for the road safety movement – 4,969 people were killed and 5,085 injured in road accidents across the country last year.
Ilias Kanchan, founder and chairman of Nirapad Sarak Chai, said the death toll was lower because of the countrywide restrictions on movement put in place to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Nischa unveiled the report at a press conference at the National Press Club in the capital on Wednesday.
According to Nischa, 3,800 people were killed in accidents on roads, 129 on railways and 212 on waterways.
Some 1,266 drivers and helpers were among the dead and 877 people were killed in motorcycle accidents. Of the total victims, 21% were pedestrians.
January saw the highest number of casualties last year. In just one month, 495 people were killed and 623 others injured in road accidents.
The lowest number of accidents was recorded in April and May when the country was put under lockdown. During the two months, 132 and 198 accidents took place, respectively.
In 2019, a total 5,227 people were killed in road accidents while 4,439 people had died the previous year, which was 16% fewer than in 2019.
Ilias Kanchan said the highest number of road accidents took place in the Dhaka, Chattogram and Mymensingh districts while the three hill districts of Bandarban, Rangamati and Khagrachhari saw the lowest number of accidents.
"A lack of proper road management, monitoring, and awareness among pedestrians; the non-implementation of 111 recommendations given to the government to form a task force; and reckless driving are the major reasons behind road accidents," said the road safety activist.
Kanchan, also a popular film actor, further identified a lack of traffic rules, overtaking in violation of traffic laws, driving for long periods without a break, an increase in the number of motorcycles and three-wheelers on roads and highways, and construction defects on highways as the other reasons behind the accidents.
He thinks pedestrians are forced to use motorways as most footpaths are occupied by illegal stalls and shops, leading to many road accidents.
"We have been continuing this movement for the last 27 years, but we have not seen any concrete action from the government," he said.
He called upon the government to adopt a comprehensive regulation to bring down the number of deaths, and include the road safety issues in the national educational curriculum for mass awareness.
Nischa's Secretary General Syed Ehsanul Haque Kamal, Joint Secretary General Liton Ershad and Organising Secretary SM Azad were also present at the programme.