Road accidents have become so frequent and inevitable that a general sense of resignation now prevails. Every time people get out on streets, roads and highways, a premonition lurks at the back of their heads if they would be able to return home safely. Their near and dear ones also keep their fingers crossed until those gone on routine duty or other business errands return home in one piece. It is because the daily toll of ghastly and dreaded road accidents shows no sign of relenting. It seems common people have become shockproof. Or, how can people accept the road tragedies on an outrageous scale on a daily basis? Those in charge of the affairs of roads and transportation also give the impression that even the high incidence of road crashes is a routine occurrence and therefore beyond redress. Rarely do they express their regret, let alone accept responsibility.
It is a dangerous sign for any society that fails to feel tormented by loss of lives to road accidents on such a regular basis, at times marking tolls of a few dozens on a single day like that of Saturday last. People are unlikely to pay much attention to the day's accidents but for the extraordinary event of a baby's bizarre birth out of its dying mother. Experts on road communication, however, have discerned that the pattern of accidents on return journey by holidaymakers has changed from the one noticed during their pre-Eid journey home. On the return journey, head-on-collisions have once again increased which during their journey home dropped drastically because, the experts think, of the bifurcation of lanes of most highways branching out of Dhaka City and slightly slower speed of vehicles on account of the crowded roads and highways. Now the roads outside the four-lane segments are mostly empty and drivers are desperate to raise the speed as high as possible. Also, unfit vehicles were pressed into service with local drivers hardly skilled and experienced in driving on highways. This is explained by 18.2 per cent accidents caused due to drivers' failure to control vehicles and ending up steering their vehicles into roadside ditches or hitting trees or other structures.
True, road accidents cannot be eliminated because human errors and mechanical failures cannot be ruled out altogether. But in most cases what happen in the name of road accidents in this country are simply murder by default. If endemic weakness in traffic management lies at one end, the development of regulated components such as regular fitness tests of public transports, sufficient training for drivers and transport operators and streamlining their jobs with provision for enough rest and service insurance as well as ensuring separate lanes or bylanes for slow-moving vehicles still remain a far cry, on the other.
Accidents are an undesirable product of systemic constraints including corrupt practices resorted to by Frankenstein-like leaders of transport syndicates which thrive on their illicit political connections. The workers' unions or federations at Gabtoli, Syedabad and Mohakhali collect huge amount of tolls on a daily basis in the name of transport workers' welfare but during the pandemic such operators did receive no financial assistance from the unions. Parasites rule the roost, whereas the genuine transport operators suffer. Without resolving the core issues that have bedevilled the transport sector and removing the fundamental causes behind the chaotic system, road accidents cannot be arrested to a reasonable limit.