Road crashes have killed 376 people this Eid holiday season, continuing a deadly trend that has claimed more than a thousand lives since 2019.
A further 1,500 people were injured in road accidents in the fourteen days before and after Eid this year.
Accidents can be attributed to poor driving or reckless driving skills, as 39.57% of vehicles involved in accidents left the road.
Although the Eid journey has been relatively smooth this year, the number of deaths in road accidents has increased by around 18.41% and the death toll by 19.74%.
Among the dead were 38 women and 51 children, according to a recent report by the Road Safety Foundation.
A press release issued by the foundation on Thursday said the crashes killed 54 pedestrians, which accounted for 14.36% of all fatalities.
A total of 49 drivers and their assistants were also killed in the accidents, representing 13% of the total number of fatalities.
The report was compiled based on information gleaned from national dailies, online news portals and electronic media, the foundation said.
He said a large number of people were injured in road accidents and in many cases there were no casualties. The foundation said the mainstream media did not factor those numbers into the calculation.
However, a note of the number of people who underwent treatment at the National Institute of Trauma and Orthopedic Rehabilitation (NITOR) suggests the number of people injured could be much higher, the foundation said.
Nearly 130 motorcycle accidents during Eid
During Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations in 2021, 134 people were killed in 121 motorcycle accidents. The numbers are 156 and 128 this year, with the highest contribution (45.22%) in the death tally.
The report suggests that motorcycle accidents have increased by 5.74% and fatalities by 16.41% this year.
A total of 51.42% of cyclists killed this year were between 14 and 20 years old, the report adds.
Among them, 42% of the accidents happened when the bikes veered off the roads.
Road Safety Foundation executive director Saidur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune that around 2.5 million people left Dhaka on motorbikes during Eid.
“It’s a matter of great concern because motorbikes are 30 times more risky than four-wheelers,” he said.
Bangladesh‘s Secretary General, Jatri Kalyan Samity, Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, told Dhaka Tribune that collisions and motorcycle accidents were most common during Eid. Compared to other times, the number of accidents increases at this time of year as drivers find the roads empty and ideal for speeding.
The Road Safety Foundation report indicates that a total of 132 (46.64%) accidents took place on national roads, 87 (30.74%) on regional roads, 41 (14.48%) on rural roads and 23 (8.12%) on urban roads.
The Dhaka division had the highest number of accidents and fatalities, with 106 people dying in 83 accidents.
Also, 5 people have been killed and 2 injured in 7 boating accidents during Eid trips this year.
In addition, 19 people were killed and three others were injured in 17 rail accidents.
Unqualified drivers on the roads
According to the Passengers Welfare Association Bangladesh (PWAB), 2,318 lives have been lost on the roads during the Eid holiday over the past five years. He noted that there were more than two million unlicensed drivers and half a million unfit vehicles on the roads.
These unskilled drivers and unclean vehicles are putting lives at risk on the country’s roads, PWAB had said ahead of Eid.
“A terrifying situation is unfolding as the number of unauthorized drivers and vehicles has increased on the roads,” said Professor Md Hadiuzzaman, director of the Accident Research Institute (ARI) at the University of Bangladesh Engineering and Technology (Buet).
“About 85% of road fatalities are caused by speeding, overtaking and reckless driving, as most drivers are unprofessional,” he added.
According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), the total number of vehicles registered in the country in February 2022 was 5.12 million. There were approximately 4.74 million driving licenses in circulation in January 2022.
However, BRTA sources said the total number of licenses in circulation is misleading as a portion of drivers have both light vehicle and heavy vehicle licences. The total number of license holders in the country is around three million and therefore around two million vehicles are driven by unlicensed drivers.