At least 24,954 people were killed in road crashes in the country in 2016, according to a World Health Organisation report.
The number is almost 10 times the official number given by police.
Over 15 per 1 lakh people had fallen victim to road crashes in 2016, according to the Global Status Report on Road Safety-2018 released yesterday.
According to police data, 2,463 people were killed and 2,134 others injured in 2,566 road accidents in 2016.
The WHO's methodology of collecting data involved a number of different sectors and stakeholders in each country, it said.
A road safety campaigner said the WHO's estimate seemed credible to him. But a road accident researcher said the number was inflated to a great extent and police data was conservative.
Sohel Rana, assistant inspector general (media) at the Police Headquarters, said the statistics prepared by police was correct.
The WHO, in its report released in 2015, said 21, 316 were killed in road crashes in 2012. But police report said the number was 2,538.
According to the latest WHO report, the number of deaths in crashes continues to climb across the world, reaching 1.35 million in 2016. At this rate, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) target 3.6 to halve road traffic deaths by 2020 will not be met.
Road traffic injury is now the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5–29 years and the eighth leading cause of death for all age groups surpassing HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and diarrhoeal diseases.
Bangladesh has set a target to reduce road fatalities by 50 percent between 2011 and 2020, the UN health agency said.
It said 28.79 lakh vehicles were registered with authorities in 2016 of which 19.80 lakh were motorised two and three wheelers.
The WHO said the rates of road traffic death are the highest in Africa and South East Asia.
In south East Asia, the majority of deaths are among riders of motorised two and three wheelers representing 43 percent and 36 percent of all deaths respectively, it said.
WHO ESTIMATE DIVIDES OPINION
Mozammel Hoque Chowdhury, secretary general of Bangladesh Jatri Kalyan Samity, said, “I think WHO's estimate is correct.”
He said police prepared the report on the basis of cases filed over crashes. But cases are not filed after nearly 80 percent of the incidents.
As a result, police data are based on about 20 percent of the crases, he claimed.
Mozammel said his organisation compiled newspaper reports in 2016, and found that at least 6,055 people were killed that year.
But that estimate is also incomplete because many accidents remain unreported.
The government always wants to show a smaller number of accident deaths to hide their failure. As a government institution, police prepares the report accordingly, he alleged.
According to Jatri Kalyan Samity, at least 7,397 were killed in 2017 while police report said the number was 2,513.
Meanwhile, Kazi Saifun Newaz, assistant professor of Accident Research Institute at Buet, said the WHO's estimate was inflated.
He also observed that police estimate was a conservative one.