Public Wrecks: Road Accident Proneness in Pakistan

Public Wrecks: Road Accident Proneness in Pakistan

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Road accidents are very common in developing countries especially in Pakistan and the situation has become worsened day by day. Experts have mentioned in the different research reports that that mostly they (accidents) are caused by different factors such as careless driving, traffic rules violation, bad roads and faulty old vehicles.

Road traffic accidents (RTA) are an important yet preventable cause of death and disability in developing countries like Pakistan. Yet accurate epidemiological data on injuries in developing country injuries is often difficult to obtain.

The Government of Pakistan should explore the factors that may helpful in the controlling of traffic rules violation and mitigation of road traffic accidents. The Government of Pakistan should also start effective awareness programs regarding traffic safety rules and also determine the effectiveness of law enforcement to control the traffic rules violation.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report (published in 2013) road accidents will become the fifth major cause of deaths by 2030. Over 3400 people die on the world’s roads every day and tens of millions of people are injured or disabled every year. Children, pedestrians, cyclists and older people are among the most vulnerable of road users. WHO had also predicted that road accidents were claiming 30,310 lives in Pakistan annually. This means that approximately 20 people out of 100,000 die in road accidents in a year, making Pakistan rank 67 globally for a higher percentage of road traffic accidents.

The last 10 years data on traffic accidents present a horrific picture as average 15 people died every day in traffic accidents across the country. Sindh proved the deadliest in terms of average people killed in accidents, followed by Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In Karachi alone, thousands of lives are lost yearly. Overspeeding is a recurring problem yet little heed has been paid to curb the frequency of such accidents. Irrespective of laws being in place, monitoring of such laws has been minimal. Untrained drivers without a valid license often make their way onto the driving seats of passenger vehicles and speed their way to death while putting others in harm’s way.

According to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data on traffic accidents in Pakistan from 2004 to 2013, the ratio of killings in road accidents in Sindh was recorded the highest at up to 86%.

The overall ratio of deaths in road accidents across the country has been recorded up to 55% which according to the experts and former traffic police officials is the highest.

The data was further analyzed on provincial level according to which Punjab is on top in terms of number of accidents, casualties and people injured in the traffic accidents.

The number of accidents in Punjab is 52% of the total. The data shows that the average number of people died per accident in Punjab is up to 60% which is the second highest in the country.

Similarly, the number of injured people per accident was recorded up to 129%.

Although the number of accidents in Sindh was recorded very low during last 10 years but the number of casualties was higher than any province in the country.

According to the data, total 51,416 people died in 97,739 road accidents across the country. Out of total casualties, as many as 29,524 were killed in 51,715 accidents in Punjab, 9,639 died in 13,965 accidents in Sindh, 9,494 people died in 27,939 accidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 2,250 people died in Balochistan in 4,085 accidents. Out of the total number of accidents, 43,582 were recorded as fatal which is 47.3%.

The number of accidents although are high in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, however the number of casualties is lowest in terms of percentage per accident.

The data further shows that the number of accidents in Balochistan is lowest among other provinces as 4,085 accidents had been reported in the province from 2004-13. The number of casualties in this province as per record is 2,250 and 5,847 people injured.

It is also said that that out of almost 850,000 vehicles registered under this department, a total of 503,808 vehicles were registered before and up to 1990.

As a result, more than half of the total registered vehicles are about thirty or more than thirty years old, hence causing road accidents.

No doubt, road accidents are in high numbers because citizens ignore traffic principles and road signs, break signals, recklessly perform wheelie on bikes, use mobile phones while driving, overtake from the wrong side, use drugs and wrongly park. Surprisingly, citizens take safety features as the least important thing when they buy cars.

 

Many people believe that the government of Pakistan is not doing enough to educate drivers on traffic rules and regulations. A lot of people who drive, don’t have licenses and those who have licenses, got them unlawfully, without taking part in any driving tests. According to traffic police, 80 percent of Pakistanis don’t follow basic safety precautions like, fastening of seat belts, or wearing helmets.

The National Highway & Motorway Police officials have lamented that on average 15000-16000 people die in Pakistan annually due to traffic accidents and this figure was much higher as compared to the loss of lives due to terrorism in the country.

The National Highway & Motorway Police in collaboration with Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry organized an awareness session on the “Defensive Driving Techniques” at the Chamber House to sensitize the business community on the importance of road safety and compliance of traffic rules in order to avoid road accidents.

Giving a presentation to the business community on defensive driving techniques, Inspector, Licensing Authority, National Highway & Motorway Police Muhammad Asif, said that on average 15000-16000 people die in Pakistan annually due to traffic accidents and this figure was much higher as compared to the loss of lives due to terrorism in the country.

He said this situation necessitated enhanced sensitization and awareness in the public about the importance of road safety measures and strict compliance of traffic rules in order to reduce the ratio of road accidents. He said with the efforts of Motorway Police, roads accidents were reducing, but there was lot of scope for further improvement on this account.

Muhammad Asif said that according to a WHO report, annually, over 1.2 million people died in the world due to road accidents while in Pakistan, reported traffic accidents caused annual casualties of 7500-8000, while the average annual loss including reported accidents ranged from 15000 to 16000.

He said that according to research studies, 90 percent accidents in Pakistan occurred due to the mistake of drivers and emphasized that drivers should fully comply with traffic rules to minimize the traffic accidents as death of one person can affect the lives of the entire family. He asked the business community to cooperate in spreading awareness about traffic rules for educating maximum people.

Speaking at the occasion, M Naveed Malik, Senior Vice President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that civilized nations develop disciplined driving by ensuring strict compliance of traffic rules and emphasized that maximum people should be sensitized on defensive driving techniques in Pakistan to promote road safety and to reduce accidents.

He urged that traffic rules should be made part of the school curricula so that youth could be educated about the benefits of disciplined driving. He lauded the initiative of National Highway & Motorway Police for creating awareness about defensive driving techniques and hoped that it would promote disciplined driving in the country.


ECONOMIC COSTS

WHO mention in its reports that road traffic crashes cause not only grief and suffering but also economic losses to victims, their families, communities and nations as a whole, costing states on average 3 percent of their Gross National Product (GNP). Indirect costs, like loss of productivity, damage to vehicles and property, reduced quality of life and other factors, must also be included in calculating the true cost to society.

Experts reported that there should be a proper law in place to remove all vehicles, which are greater than ten years old, from roads in the country as per the global norm. Internationally banned old vehicles are being used in our country. However, many transport experts mentioned that human error mostly by unskilled drivers, is one of the most common factors of growing road accidents in Pakistan.

Poor maintenance of overused vehicles, lack of awareness among drivers has been indicated in present accidents. The Pakistan Institutes of Medical Sciences (PIMS) stated that road accidents cause long-term stress, leading to depression, anxiety and sleep issues for the injured ones. The injured are sometimes permanently disabled. Furthermore, the statistics show that traffic accidents are the leading cause of deaths among people with ages ranging from 15 to 30 in Pakistan.

Furthermore, in developed countries, drivers of passenger vehicles go through rigorous scrutiny by motor carrier safety departments before being allowed to drive, but the National Highway Authority of Pakistan has been unsuccessful in sustaining a set protocol for not only motorists but also enforcing speed limits. Blaming the authorities alone for our dare devil adventures is unfair. Motorists should also be held responsible for their reckless driving. Apart from enforcement of stringent road laws and monitoring, motorists too need to be coached on safe driving. It is time for action now.

The government official in Islamabad’s Excise and Taxation Department Program reported that one of the main causes of growing road accidents in the country is a huge number of old, unfit vehicles that are running on the roads.

SUGGESTIONS TO IMPROVE SITUATION

  • The Government of Pakistan needs to make some core courses or training program before the provision of license and traffic police should keep strong check and balance in this regard.
  • The road accidents are serious issue but can be solved easily if we enhance the system by removing corruption from our society. Furthermore, corrupt officers should be removed from their designations.
  • Heavy traffic (N.L.C, trucks) should not be allowed in the morning and evening timings. Their working hours should be in the evening.
  • Teach your children basic rules and precaution for crossing and walking on roads. Practice these principles before them when you are on roads and set good examples to them.
  • Driving under the age of 18 is restricted, unlawful and crime. Parents must take care of this law and do not permit their children for driving until they are 18 and have a valid driving license
  • Kids grow up quickly, and constantly surprise parents/relatives with what they can do. However, they are not ready to be left alone around traffic until they are at least 10 years old.
  • Unluckily, vehicles do not always stop for pedestrians. Kids need a hand whenever cars may be around. This includes at pedestrian crossings and traffic lights.
  • Despite these high and alarming figures, local car manufacturers in Pakistan aren’t doing enough to provide safety in their cars. Basic safety features like airbags, ABS and EBD are not installed in cars manufactured in Pakistan.

 

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Rava Desk

Rava is an online news portal providing recent news, editorials, opinions and advice on day to day happenings in Pakistan.

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