People of Bangladesh get killed in road accidents in greater numbers than dying from any other justifiable cause.
On 26 February, 2021 at 7am, two buses of Ena Paribahan and London Express collided head on which resulted in the death of eight people.
On the same day another accident took place at Bogura; a CNG got smashed from behind by a bus of Shawon Paribahan, three people died on the spot and another one died after being taken to the hospital. Two more people died in Barisal and Chuadanga as well.
Do these accidents take place only on the highways? The answer is 'no.' A gruesome incident took place on 29 June, 2020 when a big launch, while reversing, crashed with a smaller one, resulting in the death of 32 people.
After Covid-19 first hit Bangladesh in the middle of March 2020, the whole country was locked down for a few months which resulted in 21% less accidents and 18% fewer deaths, but still that could not make a big difference on dying from accidents occurred on roads, railways and waterways.
According to the monitoring report of the Bangladesh Passengers Welfare Association (BPWA) for the year 2020, the total number of deaths was 6,686 and the number of injuries were even higher: 8,600 from 4,891 road accidents.
Moreover, in the 323 railway accidents, 318 people were killed and 73 injured. The total number of missing people on the waterway disaster was 371, the number of dead people was 313 and 342 sustained injuries.
In 2018, 2,635 people were killed and 1,920 were injured in 2,609 cases of accidents. The same year saw an unprecedented student movement, where tens of thousands of students were on the streets of Dhaka, demanding the safety on roads after a bus crushed two college students under the wheels.
However, the year 2019 was the year when the number of deaths spiked to 4,138, while injuries totalled 4,411.
The big question that needs to be asked at this point is why such unwanted incidents are taking place.
Ilias Kanchan, the founder and chairman of "Nirapad Sarak Chai," blamed such disasters on illiterate and inept drivers, imperfect vehicles and roads, deficiency in traffic management and most importantly, poor enforcement of law.
Other factors include the inclination toward overtaking other vehicles, avoiding security gears like seatbelt and helmets etc.
The pedestrians, on the other hand, tend to use the phone while walking on streets. Isn't it utter carelessness on our part? How often do we use the foot over bridges in order to cross the road? Some people tend to cross the road through road divider fences, just to save a few minutes, no matter how troublesome and risky it might be.
Another sad reality is the hawkers occupying footpaths because of which the pedestrians have to walk down the road.
Everyday people suffer the loss of their loved ones, or some people are losing their limbs. In many cases, these people happen to be the only/main breadwinner of the family. Consequently, the accident has a horrendous impact on the dependents as well.
We might protest on roads to rectify the laws and blame the government for every accident, but have we ever tried to change ourselves and do our own part of filing a complaint against the reckless drivers? Do we abide by the laws whilst driving our vehicle?
Is there any solution to put an end to such disastrous accidents? Yes, there is, by simply using our 'common sense' while travelling and by reducing our haste while commuting.
The government also has a crucial role to play to stop all these catastrophic events by ensuring strict enforcement of law. There has to be penalties and other strict forms of punishments alongside the rectification of some laws, fixing the poor mismanagements of the traffic system and elimination of corruption on the roads and offices related to it.
These changes might take time but with collective effort it is not impossible to bring drastic improvement to the current situation. Everyone should be concerned because God forbid, the next person dying in an accident could be any of our loved ones.
Radowa Alam is an LLB student at the University of London.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.