Highway black spots a daily deathtrap


The government has taken various measures to speed up construction work of multilane highways and implement the road safety act to lessen the road accidents as well.

But road safety has not been ensured yet as many black-spots have been developed on the national highways across the country.

According to police data, 4,138 people were killed in 4,147 road accidents in 2019 while 2,635 lives were lost in 2,609 road crashes in 2018. 

Different private organisations, however, recorded a much higher number of deaths during the same time.

However, according to a study, there are 222 black spots on our highways where the majority of accidents take place. These points of the roads need to be redesigned to reduce road accidents, experts said.

On the other hand, works are underway to develop the risky road corridors across the country while work of upgrading around 450 kilometer highways to four-lane is also going on.

In a bid to check the alarming number of road accidents, the government asked the authority concerned to identify “black spots” on national highways and send a proposal to the concerned ministry.

There are several reasons why a place on a highway becomes a black spot. Sometimes, because of faulty position of billboards and roadside trees, drivers’ vision gets blocked, especially at sharp or hairpin turnings, leading to accidents.

Remedial of a black spot will differ based on the nature of a road, its surroundings and quality of land.

Black spot treatment varies with the nature of road, surroundings and quality of land. For example, if there is a sharp turn, it could be made sure that there are no billboards and big trees blocking the drivers’ vision.

The government is planning measurements to curb highway accidents. If the relevant department of the government had been more sincere about taking care of these accident-prone places – black spots– chances were high the overwhelming number of highway casualties could have been significantly lowered.

A black spot is a certain section on a highway considered dangerous because it is prone to accidents.

In 2009, at the completion of a two-year study, the Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Buet came up with a list of 209 such black spots across the country. The researchers followed two methods – (a) compilation of road accident statistics and news reports, and (b) a few field visits.

According to source from the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) – the implementing agency – around 30% of those black spots have so far been remedied since the list was placed in 2009.

According to BRTA officials, now when the BRTA is thinking about moving ahead, BUET authorities are saying that the available black spot data is too old and needs updating, otherwise the project would not be of much use.

Although the government passed the much-awaited Road Transport Act 2018 after the student movement for road safety, they could not enforce it due to protests from the transport owners and workers.

When the government finally took the initiative to enforce the law in November last year, transport associations called strikes, demanding amendments to some sections of the law. As the government gave in to their demands, the law is now being enforced only partially, keeping some of the provisions ineffective.

Earlier Accident Research Institute (ARI) has indentified 144 black-spots to remove construction flaws in highways while 121 spots have been developed to remove risk.

When contacted, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder told the Bangladesh Post that they had sought two things – an updated list from the ARI and an extension from the government.

Officials said that in primary investigation, they had found that roughly 40% of the black spots from that ARI list are still prone to accidents. Since another study would take time, they now want to move forward with these common spots and in the meantime ARI could do another study.