Road accidents are unfortunately on the rise in Bangladesh, and a majority of these road crashes are caused by human errors. It is very important to drive carefully and follow all traffic laws and rules. Recall what happened on July 29 and fallout of that mishap when the driver of one of two speeding buses ploughed into a crowd on Airport Road and killed two students. The two buses are owned by the same company. Such competitions kill people every day.
In 2015, 8,642 were killed and 21,855 were injured in 6,581 road crashes. In 2016, 4,312 road crashes left 6,055 dead and 15,918 injured. The number of road crashes in 2016 was 34.48 per cent lesser than that of 2015.
But in 2017, around 7,397 people were killed and 16,193 injured in 4,979 road accidents. Compared to 2016, road accidents increased by 15.5 per cent, deaths increased by 22.2 per cent and number of injuries increased by about two per cent last year. Hence, the roads in Bangladesh are becoming increasingly deadly!
The total number of registered motor vehicles in Bangladesh as of March 2018 was 3.4 million. These include: Ambulance, Auto-Rickshaw CNG, Auto-Tempo, Bus, Cargo Van, Covered Van, Delivery Van, Human Hauler, Jeep, Microbus, Minibus, Pick-Up Van, Private Passenger Car, Special Purpose Vehicle, Tanker, Taxicab, Tractor, and Truck. The average growth rate of motor vehicles is about 15 per cent annually.
Having a driving licence does not mean that the licence-holder is a good driver. Given below are the most common causes of accidents, and how the risks associated with these causes can be minimised.
UNFOCUSED DRIVING: This has continued to be a bigger threat with every passing year. It has also been the leading cause of car accidents over past few decades. Drivers need to pay attention to the road while driving any vehicle. That means no calls, no texting, no eating, no reading, no grooming or application of makeup, or talking while behind the wheel.
DRIVING UNDER INFLUENCE: Drinking, prior to driving, causes accidents as inebriated drivers have less control on the wheels. If a driver has anything to drink or smoke, he should give the keys to a sober friend.
SPEED DRIVING: This is the second most common cause of accidents. So drivers should resist the urge to speed and stay within the legal limits.
HASTINESS: Changing lanes too quickly, speeding well over the limit, and acting aggressive on the roads can lead to accidents. It is important to take time and remain calm while driving, to avoid needless accidents.
INCLEMENT WEATH: It is impossible to avoid driving in the rain during monsoon. The slippery, treacherous roads after a downpour should be avoided when possible. If visibility is too low to drive or the roads seem particularly shoddy, the driver should pull over and wait until the storm passes.
VIOLATING TRAFFIC SIGNALS: 'Red light' at any traffic signal always means 'stop'. Even when no other vehicles are coming, a vehicle should not run through a red light, as this can cause accidents.
DRIVING AT NIGHT: Lack of visibility makes driving hazardous. Drivers need to ensure that they are extra alert on the roads at night.
DESIGN DEFECTS: Sometimes accidents are caused by flaws in the vehicle itself. This is sometimes unavoidable. Drivers need to make sure that same models of the vehicle have not been recalled by foreign manufacturers in recent times. Drivers can also conduct daily maintenance checks of their vehicle before moving on the roads.
TAILING A VEHICLE: Drivers need to maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. This will give the driver some time to react in case the vehicle ahead takes any sudden turns or uses the brakes.
UNFAMILIAR TERRAIN: Street signs can help drivers plan their activities regarding location, dangerous curves ahead and so on.
TEENAGE DRIVERS: Teenagers do not have experience to know what to do in unsafe conditions that can lead to accidents. Teenagers can at least know some driving in case of emergencies.
DILAPIDATED ROADS: Potholes and dilapidated roads are very frustrating for drivers, because sometimes they cannot be avoided. Drivers can drive around potholes and uneven roads to avoid damage to their vehicles.
TIRE BLOWOUTS: If a tire of a running vehicle explodes, it will cause the car to swerve uncontrollably. Drivers, in such situations, need to stay calm and keep control of the wheel while pulling over as soon as it is safe.
ROADKILLS: Hitting animals while driving can lead to dangerous situations. For this reason, drivers need to take extra precaution when they comes across an 'animal crossing' sign. They can use their high beams when travelling in rural forest areas where wild animals are common.
CONSTRUCTION SITES: Sometimes the way a construction zone is set up can be confusing. It is especially important to drive slowly in these areas to avoid even the smallest accidents from occurring.
TAILBACKS: Traffic congestion in a city can be a cause of accidents. Horrible traffic on the road makes people stressful and sleepy when driving or sitting in a vehicle.
Careful driving cannot still ensure that accidents will never occur. This is because other drivers on the roads may not be following traffic rules themselves. Because of their errors, other innocent drivers or pedestrians fall victim to road accidents.
If someone is in a vehicle crash, it may not be their fault. They should not be held responsible for the damages caused by the ignorance or mistakes of other drivers. In such cases, one can consider protecting him/her self by filing a vehicle accident claim as per law.
Engr. Md. Shahin Alom is Deputy General Manager of MJL Bangladesh Limited.
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