Dhaka,  Sunday
19 May 2024

Joy of Eid ruined by road accidents : Safety Concerns 

Sumon Reza

Published: 08:32, 22 April 2024

Joy of Eid ruined by road accidents : Safety Concerns 

Photo : Messenger

As the vibrant hues of the biggest festival of the Muslim community, Eid, adorn our streets, there's an unfortunate shadow looming over the revelry: the alarming rise in road accidents. Festive celebrations, while joyous occasions, often coincide with an increase in road traffic, leading to a surge in accidents and fatalities. The death toll rises, particularly during the Eid holidays, compared to other times of the year. And it's almost a very common phenomenon in the country so far. Eid celebrations were marred by a tragic surge of road accidents. This year's Eid-ul-Fitr is not an exception too.

Numerous road accidents happen throughout the country, which have snatched away a number of innocent lives on the street. On the day of Eid, 16 lives were lost in road accidents across the country. Besides, some more accidents also happened across the country, with minor losses. According to a report, 122 people died in 117 road accidents in 7 days, from April 8 to 14. And at least 195 people were injured. This is indeed alarming, but the scenario is that it's as usual things.  

But according to the last report of the Bangladesh Passenger Welfare Association, a total of 438 people were killed in 419 accidents across the country on roads, railways and waterways during this year's Eid trip. And 1,424 people were injured in these accidents.

As the road remains almost empty during the festival season, drivers drive vehicles at ultraspeed. Moreover, a section of youth could not even control the excessive speed, specially when riding motorcycles. This leads to accidents and around half of the casualties are based on motorcycle accidents.

On last Wednesday (17-04-2024), 14 people lost their lives in an accident in Jhalakathi when a cement-laden truck lost control and veered into a ditch, colliding with a private car and an autorickshaw at the toll plaza of the fifth China-Bangladesh Friendship Bridge at Gabkhan. Earlier, 15 people were killed in a bus pickup collision in Faridpur on Tuesday (16-04-2024).

Besides, separate road accidents also occur in Gulshan, Sadarghat of Dhaka, Kolmakanda of Netrokona, Panchagarh, Guimara of Khagrachhari, Narsingdi, Gazipur, Chuadanga, Faridpur, Kishoreganj, Rajshahi, Naogoan, Natore, Tangail, Narail, Chattogram, Thahurgoan, Patuakhali and Sylhet, among others. (The information and figures are merely based on media reports.)

As it goes on the it's time to think deeply about this from root level. Why are these happening frequently across the country? Especially in the time of festivals and occasions. What are the reasons behind it? Let's see some basic reasons for which road accidents are happening again and again with the lose of life as well as wealth.

One of the primary culprits behind this uptick is the combination of increased vehicular traffic and heightened excitement. Festivals bring about a flurry of activities, from family gatherings to cultural events, prompting more people to hit the roads. Unfortunately, this surge in traffic is often accompanied by a disregard for traffic rules and safety precautions.

Another factor amplifying the risk of accidents is the condition of vehicles. Many individuals undertake long journeys during festivals, often in vehicles that may not be adequately maintained. Faulty brakes, worn-out tires, or other mechanical issues can contribute to accidents, especially on busy highways where split-second decisions can make a difference between safety and catastrophe.

The festive spirit can sometimes cloud judgment, leading to reckless driving behaviors such as speeding, drunk driving, and distracted driving. Furthermore, the influx of travelers, many of whom may be unfamiliar with local traffic patterns, can contribute to chaotic road conditions.

Pedestrian safety also becomes a concern during festivals, with crowded streets and intersections posing risks to those on foot. Inadequate infrastructure, such as poorly lit areas and lack of pedestrian crossings, exacerbates these dangers.

To address these issues and ensure safer roads during festival season, a multi-faceted approach is necessary. Increased enforcement of traffic laws, including strict penalties for violations, can serve as a deterrent to reckless driving. Public awareness campaigns emphasising the importance of responsible driving and pedestrian safety are also crucial in changing behaviours and attitudes.

Actually, road accidents tend to increase during festivals due to various reasons:

Increased Traffic: Festivals often lead to higher volumes of traffic on the roads as people travel to visit family and friends or attend events.
Fatigue: Long journeys and late-night travel during festivals can lead to driver fatigue, impairing reaction times and decision-making abilities.
Distractions: Festive decorations, music, and celebrations can be distracting for drivers, leading to reduced focus on the road.

Rush and Impatience: People may be in a hurry to reach their destinations or attend events on time, leading to speeding and reckless driving behaviours.

Poor Road Conditions: Increased traffic during festivals can exacerbate issues with road maintenance and infrastructure, leading to hazards such as potholes and uneven surfaces.

Addressing these factors through increased awareness campaigns, stricter enforcement of traffic laws, and promoting responsible driving behaviours can help reduce the incidence of road accidents during festivals.

Now let's talk about how to prevent road accidents and what measures should be taken to reduce the accidents. There are many steps to be taken to reduce road accidents. But among them, the most important measures are as follows:.

Preventing and lessening road accidents during festivals requires a combination of proactive measures and community involvement. Here are some suggestions:
Public Awareness Campaigns: First and foremost, it's important to launch campaigns to educate people about safe driving practices, the dangers of drunk driving, and the importance of wearing seat belts.

Increased Police Presence: Enhance law enforcement on roads during festival times to deter reckless driving behaviours and enforce traffic laws.
Designated Drivers: Encourage the use of designated drivers or public transportation for those attending festivals.

Traffic Management: Implement effective traffic management strategies to handle increased volumes of vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists around festival areas.
Infrastructure Improvements: Ensure roads are well-maintained, adequately lit, and have clear signage to minimise the risk of accidents.

Emergency Response Preparedness: Have emergency medical services readily available and well-equipped to respond promptly to any accidents or incidents.
Community Involvement: Engage local communities in road safety initiatives, including neighbourhood watch programs and volunteer patrols.

Encourage Responsible Celebrations: Promote responsible drinking and discourage excessive alcohol consumption through awareness campaigns and partnerships with local businesses.

Parental Supervision: Encourage parents to supervise their children during festivals to prevent accidents, especially in crowded areas.

Continuous Evaluation and Improvement: Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of road safety measures during festivals and make necessary adjustments based on feedback and data analysis.

Additionally, efforts should be made to improve the infrastructure and road conditions, especially on routes experiencing heavy traffic during festivals. Adequate signage, well-maintained roads, and efficient traffic management can go a long way in preventing accidents and minimising their severity.

Local authorities must prioritise infrastructure improvements, such as better lighting and pedestrian-friendly features, to create safer environments for all road users. Additionally, community initiatives, such as designated driver programs and free public transportation services, can provide alternatives to driving under the influence.

Besides, preventing road accidents requires a multifaceted approach. Governments can focus on improving infrastructure, implementing stricter traffic laws, enforcing existing regulations more effectively, increasing public awareness campaigns about road safety, promoting safer driving practices, investing in advanced vehicle safety technologies, and providing better emergency response services. And repairing damaged roads are also important.

And every accident should be investigated with transparency to reveal the cause of the accident and take legal action against those responsible. Accountability should be ensured in road management too.

As we immerse ourselves in the festivities, let's not forget the importance of prioritising safety on our roads. By exercising caution, respecting traffic laws, and looking out for one another, we can ensure that the joy of the season is not marred by the tragedy of road accidents. Let's celebrate responsibly and make our roads safer for everyone.

The Writer is a Sub Editor of The Daily Messenger. He can be reached at: [email protected]