ONE of the key reasons behind mounting road accidents in Bangladesh is that vehicles are often driven by inexperienced underage drivers. Devoid of any formal driving lessons, knowledge in traffic rules and aided by a corrupt licensing system, a huge number of juveniles take to the wheels -- only to make our roads more dangerous. The reason behind the increasing number of teenage males picking driving before they are matured is because the driving profession in Bangladesh was never regulated.
It is alarming to see underage drivers go about behind the wheels with impunity. And the excuse of shortage of manpower of the police to check this offence is untenable. It is unacceptable that errant underage drivers should continue to pose threat to the lives of the public.
According to the Accident Research Institute (ARI), at least 3,000 fatalities are recorded from around 3,500 police reported accidents on the roads across our country. The figure indicates that the safety problem in Bangladesh is grossly overlooked -- with some 60 to 150 fatalities per 10,000 motor vehicles. An underage driver is more prone to cause an accident than an adult.
Both the traffic police and the BRTA should play a more responsible role in this regard. Coupled with a stringent licensing procedure, we feel that it should be also made mandatory for all future drivers to attend courses to gain adequate knowledge about road safety and safe driving. If needed, existing traffic laws should be updated.