Although the number of road crashes have somewhat decreased, largely due to pandemic-induced restrictions on public transport, motorcycle accidents witnessed a sharp rise in 2020 compared to the previous year.
At least 4,969 people were killed and 5,058 were injured in 4,092 different types of accidents last year, according to road safety campaign Nirapad Sarak Chai. People killed in rail and riverine incidents were also included here.
Ilias Kanchan, chairman of the road safety movement, revealed the information at a press conference at Jatiya Press Club yesterday.
Nirapad Sarak Chai, which has been campaigning road safety since 1993, came up with the data after analysing reports published in different national dailies, online news portals, TV channels, and information from its branches across the country.
The actor turned road safety activist said 3,800 people were killed and 4,954 were injured in 3,232 road crashes.
Besides, 129 people were killed and 31 were injured in 108 rail-related accidents and 212 were killed and 100 were injured or went missing in 70 riverine accidents last year, he said.
The organisation added 20 percent to the numbers as many incidents do not get reported or the injured die at hospitals, making the total number of death 4,969, he said.
"The number of road accidents in 2020 is fewer than the previous two years. But, we should not claim this as a small number, because 2020 was a year of pandemic and operation of vehicles, except those used for emergency uses, remained restricted," he said.
The number of all types of accident victims were 5,227 last year.
Lack of proper monitoring and management; non-implementation of Road Transport Act-2018 and 111 recommendations given by a committee for reducing road crashes; unhealthy competition among drivers and lack of awareness among pedestrians were among the reasons behind the accidents, he said.
DEADLIEST YEAR FOR BIKERS
Among all the vehicles responsible for accidents, the highest 1,127 were motorcycles while 698 were buses, 931 were trucks and 410 were cars and jeeps and rest are other types of vehicles.
The rate of bike accidents were 19 percent in 2019 while it rose by eight percentage points to 27 percent last year.
Citing the data of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), Ilias Kanchan said 17.53 lakh motorcycle licences were issued against 30.32 lakh registered bikes, meaning 12.79 bikers are riding without licence right under the nose of law enforcers.
Although there is the positive practice of using helmets in city areas, this practice is missing in the countryside, he said, adding that use of bikes by unlicensed and young bikers as well as political activists with no regard for the law are the main reasons behind the accidents.
Talking while riding bikes are also a major reason behind accidents, he said. Imposing restriction on use of bikes by teens, and making training and licence mandatory for bikers is necessary for decreasing the number of accidents.
He said among the victims, 25 percent are drivers, riders and transport workers and 21 percent are pedestrians.
The organisation recommended carrying out mass awareness campaigns on road safety, forming monitoring cell, implementation of a decision to incorporate the issue of road safety in text books, training drivers, building service roads along highways for slow-moving vehicles, keeping the footpaths usable and correcting the faults in road designs.
The organisation's Secretary General Syed Ehsanul Haque Kamal and Joint Secretary Liton Arshad also spoke the programme.