Ensuring the proper highway operation  

Published: February 02, 2019 22:19:16 | Updated: February 04, 2019 21:39:43

Leaving aside the chaotic traffic situation in Dhaka and the other cities for the moment, it's time road monitors shifted their focus to the highways. Similar defiance, lawlessness and inefficiencies, resulting in terrible accidents coupled with deaths and injuries rules the roost there, too. To law-abiding road users, the present state of the country's highways emerges as a veritable passage to doom. Head-on collision between speeding vehicles, mindless deaths and damages are day-to-day spectacles. Meanwhile, the overall plight of the road traffic makes many develop darker premonitions for the future. According to a FE report published on January 30, at least 4,439 people lost their lives in 3,103 road accidents across the country last year. Quoting a voluntary organisation advocating safe roads, the report says a total of 1,672 of these accidents involved buses and trucks, while 674 were related to motorcycles.

Apart from the front-page photograph in FE the same day showing a truck being salvaged from a roadside waterbody into which it had veered killing two children, the tragic deaths of 20 are still fresh in memory. These fatalities occurred in 11 districts in less than 20 hours between the night of January 27 and January 28 afternoon. The ill-fated people include the school-going brother and sister travelling on a motorbike driven by their father. The light two-wheeler was hit by a recklessly speeding truck. The news made headlines, not to speak of the uproar triggered by the tragic nature of the deaths befalling the children. In the recent weeks, while travelling on the country's regional and national highways, people aboard motorised vehicles can hardly remain free of a sense of dread. Of all the vehicles using the highways, the trucks and buses make their presence frightfully dominant. Coming to the case of trucks, the previously notorious vehicles appear to have made a return with vengeance.

To the discomfort of the regular highway travellers, the goods-carrying, and mostly overloaded, trucks trigger a plethora of hazards. Both the medium-sized and smaller vehicles try to keep a safe distance from the heavy trucks. In the absence of sufficient numbers of axle load control stations meant for monitoring the load of vehicles, the truckers are virtually given free rein. Besides, tampering with the load calculations along with various anomalies obviously adds to the fears of accidents. It stems from the fact that drivers of overloaded trucks normally lose control of their vehicles. The risk posed by overloaded trucks is much higher than that posed by vehicles carrying cargo volumes within specified limit.

As time wears on, newer irregularities keep plaguing the country's highways. When it comes to the plying of trucks and coaches, the scourges multiply. Starting from the drivers operating these vehicles while under the influence of intoxicants or without having sufficient sleep to the poor presence of highway police and faulty roads, the major highways continue to be beset by improvised vehicles. Other scourges include the vehicles' lack of fitness, untrained drivers at the wheel, erratic operation of buses and also jaywalking. A synergy between organisations like Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, Roads and Highways Department, the law enforcers etc can make a great difference to this decline in highway operation.

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