Road safety cannot be ensured only by enforcing law, rather safety of other components of the transport sector must be ensured, said experts and lawyers yesterday.
Terming drivers “soft target” in the event of a road accident, they said blaming only the drivers will not bring any result unless others involved in the sector are also brought to book.
They were speaking at a daylong conference on “Transport, Law and Policy”, organised by Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA) at its auditorium in the capital's Dhanmondi.
In his introductory speech, Shahdeen Malik, honorary director of BILIA, said problem in the transport sector is one of the most discussed issues in current time.
Different media reported that more than 7,000 people were killed in road crashes last year, but the actual number may be much higher, he said.
In many cases, he said, after an accident, people demand execution of drivers and helpers and go on rampage. “The more society becomes undemocratic and savage, the more people will seek solution through punishment… I'm also part of that society,” he said. He said the Road Transport Act-2018 was passed amid huge public outcry but even after five months, the act has not been brought into force.
Even officials of the road transport and bridges ministry, with whom they contacted, were unaware that a separate gazette notification was required to determine when the law will come into action, he added.
Prof Mizanur Rahman, director of Accident Research Institute (ARI) at Buet, said there are some good aspects and some grey areas in the Road Transport Act.
“We have to ensure safe roads and roadsides,” he said, adding, “If you construct a road keeping elements of accidents in road design, then blaming drivers for the accidents won't yield anything,” he said.
Terming three-wheelers unsafe, Deputy Inspector General (highway police) Atiqul Islam said such vehicles are mainly responsible for road crashes.
There are some 12-14 lakh unregistered three-wheelers in the country, he said. Such vehicles have no protection, and when those ply the highways, the risk of accidents escalates.
He, however, said number of road accidents on highways decreased in last few years.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Zafrullah Chowdhury emphasised teaching children about road usage and traffic rules. He called upon the authorities to make laws pro-people.
Kazi Saifun Newaz, assistant professor at ARI, and Supreme Court lawyer Ainun Nahar Siddiqua Lipi also spoke at the programme, where eight papers were presented mostly by university teachers and lawyers.