Eid-ul-Azha this year saw the highest number of road accidents and casualties in seven years, despite a ban on the movement of motorcycles, responsible for most accidents on highways, according to the Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh.
There were at least 319 accidents across the country during 15 days of Eid travels, from 3 July to 17 July, leaving 398 killed and 774 wounded, Secretary-General of the association, Md Mozammel Haque Chowdhury, said at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity in the capital on Tuesday.
Previously, the highest number of accidents and deaths were 193 and 248 respectively during Eid-ul-Azha of 2016, noted the association that collects data from widely-circulated newspapers and online news portals.
Mozammel Haque said there was no Covid-related restriction this Eid and the number of travellers was very high. Some 1.2 crore people left Dhaka for their village homes and some 4 crore travelled from one district to another.
Apart from buses, 25 lakh motorcycles and 40 lakh easy bikes were on the roads during the 15 days studied.
"Thanks to rigorous patrolling by law enforcement and other agencies, Eid journeys were somewhat better this time, yet the usual road accidents increased."
Besides, transport fare irregularities and traffic backups were there like in previous years, he added.
According to the association data, motorcycles accounted for the highest number of accidents this Eid-ul-Azha: 35.42%, killing at least 131 people.
There were 164 or 44.08% motorcycle accidents out of a total 416 accidents in 15 days during this year's first religious festival, Eid-ul-Fitr, which prompted the government to impose a ban on motorcycle movement on highways during the second Eid this year, Eid-ul-Azha.
"This time motorcycle accidents happened on district and upazila level roads, though some motorcycles took to the highways despite the ban," Mozammel Haque said.
Of the total 319 accidents, 32.91% were on national highways, 46.70% on regional highways, 15.36% on feeder roads, and 4.7% accidents were on roads in the capital he noted, adding that mostly drivers and pedestrians were the victims.
The association cited reckless driving and lack of road signs and street lights as the key reasons for the accidents. Besides, other factors like defects in highway construction, tendency to violate traffic rules, substandard vehicles, extortion on the roads, and transportation of passengers in cargo vehicles, were also responsible for the accidents.
To prevent such road accidents, the Passenger Welfare Association of Bangladesh suggested the government keep all highways lighted at night, separate lanes for slow and fast vehicles, take action against extortion on roads, fix salary and working hours for drivers, and properly implement the Road Transport Act.
It also called for upskilling drivers, increasing the capacity of the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, and establishing fairness in issuing driving licences.