A sadly familiar tale
ROAD traffic accidents and fatalities in significant numbers seem to have become a regular feature of Eid holidays in Bangladesh, when people in their hundreds of thousands leave the capital Dhaka and other major urban centres for the countryside to spend time with their families and friends. According to reports published in New Age on Monday, at least 52 people have been killed and 220 injured in road traffic accidents in Dhaka, Gaibandha, Madaripur, Magura, Khulna, Bogra, Cox’s Bazar, Jhenaidah, Lalmonirhat and Moulvibazar since August 8. Not surprisingly, in most cases, reckless driving was the primary reason for the road traffic accidents. After a relative lull for the Eid celebrations, roads and highways across the country have already started to be busy with long-distance buses and other modes of transport. Given the general tendency of bus drivers to outdo each other in speeding and other forms of recklessness, it is highly likely that there would be more road traffic accidents and consequent fatalities over the next few days.
What is, perhaps, more tragic than the loss of lives and limbs on roads and highways during the festivity is the general acceptance of road traffic accidents and resultant deaths and injuries across society as a norm, as if in a resignation to fate. Accidents are accidents, people would perhaps say. However, as we have argued in these columns time and again, most of these are no accidents; these are murders. Reckless driving, coupled with faulty vehicles and certain structural and design flaws in roads and highways, is often dubbed as the major reason behind road traffic accidents, even by the police.
Suffice to say, reckless driving, unlike faulty vehicles or structural and design flaws in roads and highways, is easy to detect; after all, one can say when a vehicle is speeding or cutting lanes or running traffic lights. Thus, all it takes is for the authorities to put in place effective monitoring and enforce traffic rules and regulations to rein in reckless drivers. Sadly, the relevant law enforcement agencies have hardly ever lived up to such a straightforward task. Moreover, allegations have it that most of them either look the other way or let the offenders go in exchange for bribes. There is no reason to believe that the top brass of the police department is unaware of such allegations or their legitimacy. Yet, such malpractices have gone on, as have blatant violations of traffic rules and regulations by reckless drivers and, most importantly, road traffic accidents and resultant deaths and injuries.
Hence, instead of coming up with lame excuses, the authorities need to tighten up monitoring and strictly enforce traffic rules and regulations so as to rein in reckless driving and other obvious causes of road traffic accidents and save lives.
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