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Law enforcement can reduce road crashes by 50 pc: Experts

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There should be increased focus on proper enforcement of the existing traffic rules in the country as it can help reduce road accidents by 50 percent and improve road safety significantly, according to experts.They also stress carrying out a huge social media campaign against criminally reckless driving, excessive speed and risky overtaking alongside pushing for improving the poor road condition across the country and turning the 'offensive' drivers into 'defensive' ones.According to statistics obtained from the Police Headquarters, 2,313 people were killed and 1441 others injured on average each year in the last five years since 2010.Experts said, excessive speeding which includes both "speed in excess of the speed limit" and "inappropriate speed for the conditions'' are behind 40 percent fatal accidents while overloading or passenger carrying on bus rooftop or truck are responsible for 16 percent accidents and careless and reckless driving are responsible for 13 percent road crashes. According to the Police Headquarters statistics, a total of 1882 people were killed and 1,445 others injured in 1,857 recorded     accidents across the country in 11 months of the current year. A total of 1,957 people were killed and 1,396 others injured in 2009 recorded accidents in 2013, while the figures was 2,538 and 2,134 in 2,636 accidents round the year of 2012.Some 2,546 people were killed and 1,641 others injured in 2,667 accidents in 2011, while the figure was 2,646 and 1,803 in 2,827 accidents in the year of 2010.Although the statistics of the last five years show that the numbers of accidents as well as deaths have been showing a downtrend, it can be reduced by around 50 percent if traffic rules are enforced strictly.Contacted, Chairman of Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) Md Nazrul Islam said the tendency of reckless driving, risky overtaking as well as excessive speed must be stopped to reduce fatal road accidents on highways. "If people follow the traffic rules, the number of accidents will come down to almost 50 percent," he added.Nazrul Islam, however, said the number of road accidents is gradually decreasing following various government initiatives, including BRTA's mobile court drives against unfit vehicles.He said, the number of recorded road accidents was 2887 in 2010, while the figure came down to 1882 in 11 months of the current year.The BRTA recently intensified its mobile court drive across the country. BRTA mobile courts filed 20,000 cases and realised Tk 1.69 crore as fine till November this year.Replying to a question, the BRTA chairman said nearly 21 lakh registered vehicles, including 11 lakh motorcycles, ply roads and streets across the country with BRTA registration. But the number of drivers with valid driving license is only 14.35 lakh.Around seven lakh drivers, mostly motorcyclists, are plying vehicles without having valid driving license, the BRTA chairman said.Road Transport and Highways Division Secretary MAN Siddique said they have already identified 229 roadside hazardous places as black spots, which are also responsible for fatal accidents on national highways.Of them, 85 black spots have already been adjusted, while remaining ones will be adjusted by December next. "On completion of adjusting the black spots, the rate of fatal accidents will come down further."Renowned urban planner Prof Nazrul Islam also said if the law enforcers can enforce traffic rules properly, the number of fatal accidents will come down by 50 percent.Apart from increased police enforcement, he said there could be ramping up of social media campaign to raise awareness in this regard. "It may not prevent drivers from driving recklessly overnight, but there could be a start."Asked about the lack of enforcement of laws to prevent road accidents, Deputy Inspector General (Highway) of Police Asaduzzaman Mian admitted that they cannot properly enforce laws for lack of manpower and technological support.The DIG observed that police alone cannot be successful in enforcement of laws unless drivers and pedestrians alike are made aware of the laws.Asaduzzaqmn also noted that road accidents cannot be checked without measures for ensuring proper training to the drivers.

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