Enactment of RTA -2018

No let up in road disaster


Still after the enforcement of the Road Transport Act-2018, country’s roads and highways continue to witness deadly road disasters, killing at least 18 people every day.Hardly a day passes without a fatal accident taking place. The Road Transport Act-2018 came into effect on November 17 to create mass awareness on the issue.

But reckless driving continues to take away lives on roads and highways on a daily basis throwing the fate of most of the victims’ families into sordid state. As a result, people travelling by buses and coaches remain worried over the safety and security of their lives. Members of different law enforcement agencies assigned on country’s important roads and highways to ensure safe journey, are failing to control the reckless driving, especially when night falls and the highways become empty.

Apart from the enforcement of RTA, the government, private organisations, different socio-cultural organisations, volunteer groups, teachers, students and people from all walks of life continue to raise their voice against such rogues on the roads. But all efforts to ensure safe journey on roads and highways are going in vain as the drivers and staffs are becoming more desperate.

This correspondent travelling on different national highways and roads recently found most of the long-distance vehicles running showing little respect for speed limit. In many cases when the highway police or other members of law enforcement agencies tried to stop the coaches or buses which were running at high speed, the drivers dodged them in many ways and made good their escape.

The owners, drivers and other staffs of long-distance buses, coaches, trucks, covered vans and minibuses have been repeatedly requested to drive carefully to avoid fatal accidents. But they are not paying heed to the request. The drivers and staffs even do not reduce the speed of their vehicles nearing speed breakers or bridges.

Last Saturday, as many as 27 people died on the road, according to passenger welfare association of Bangladesh. 43 more were injured. And the day before, 18 people were killed on the road. On an average, from the beginning of January around 18 people have died in road accidents.

Almost everyone is saying that there is a sudden increase in fatalities on the roads. According to many, the main reason for the increase in road accidents is weakness in law enforcement. Even though the RTA has been enacted on November 17 of last year, the practical application of it on roads is yet to become visible.

Kazi Saifun Newaz, assistant professor at the Accident Research Institute (ARI) of Bangladesh Engineering University (BUET), said, “Poor enforcement of the law increases accidents. However, in recent times there have been more causes of death in accidents. Driving at high speed in dense fog and on empty roads in winter mornings is also one of the reasons for road accidents.”

He added, “Road accidents increase everywhere in the world during festival times. In other countries, various steps are taken to control it. Bangladesh is lacking in this case. Picnic and wedding cars play music at high volumes and run at high speed. This is one of the prime causes of accidents in festival times. But here there is no action to control it.”

Mozammel Haque Chowdhury, secretary general of the Passengers' Welfare Association, said “There is a major shortage in road safety. Vehicles are running with ineffective fog lights.” Sayed Abul Maqsud, a member of the National Road Safety Councilor, says that there are a few good laws one of which is Road Transport Act. “If not applied, why spend so much time to make new laws? If the law is not strictly enforced, accidents will continue to increase,” he added.

According to a report published this month by We Demand Safe Roads and Passengers’ Welfare Association the rate of fatalities due to road accidents is increasing every day. According to them, in 2019, a total of 855 people died in 516 accidents while 13,330 people got injured. In comparison to 2018 the fatality rate has increased by 8.07 percent last year.