Reducing Road Fatalities

Govt to train 40,000 drivers

Hasibul Aman

19 February, 2020 12:00 AM printer

The government has moved to create a pool of 40,000 expert drivers to lower road accident fatalities in the country mainly due to inept persons behind the wheels.    

Bangladesh with a huge deficit of trained drivers is a very accident-prone country where some 25,000 road fatalities take place every year, according to WHO estimate. 

As part of the initiative, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has proposed spending Tk1,411 million on a project to train up 40,000 drivers to narrow the skill gap, Planning Commission sources said. 

“Road accidents have now remarkably increased in the country. We have come up with the project as part of the government’s various steps towards curbing road accidents,” commented a high official of Youth and Sports Ministry.

The move will not only help create expert drivers for more road safety but also generate employment for the youth, he noted.

As an emerging economy, Bangladesh has witnessed an influx in the number of vehicles while at the same time the number of drivers lacking in driving knowledge and traffic rules.

The country is working towards halving road fatalities by 2020 in line with the target set in global sustainable development agenda. BRTA is providing training to fulfill the target but it is not enough.

Some recent fatal accidents have moved the whole nation, prompting Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to come up with an instruction to prepare the project proposal.

The project is now at the commission’s scrutiny stage. After that, it will be placed at the Ecnec meeting for Prime Minister’s approval, according to Planning Commission officials.

Once approved, the Department of Youth Development will implement the ‘Vehicle Driving Training’ project by 2022. 

WHO estimates that every year some 1.35 million people lose their lives on the road and the situation is more alarming in the middle-income countries that have seen a boost in vehicle ownership.

Even though South Asia has just 10 percent of the world’s cars, trucks, and motorcycles, but accounts for an outsized 27 percent of global traffic deaths, according to the World Bank.

Serious injuries from road accidents and months of costly rehabilitation can thrust a family into deep poverty.

This is a tragedy with many dimensions. Apart from the enormous human toll, road safety has a major economic impact, with annual crash-related costs estimated at 2 percent to 5 percent of national GDP. 

A recent World Bank analysis showed that, over time, sharply reducing the number of road traffic injuries would enable developing countries to achieve substantial GDP growth and welfare gains.

In the case of India, halving the number of fatalities over 24 years would generate an additional flow of income equivalent to 14 percent of GDP.

For South Asia as a whole, a 50 percent reduction in road deaths would generate an estimated gross benefit of about $1.2 trillion.

Road safety also has a tangible impact on poverty. Many crash victims are pedestrians, cyclists, or motorcyclists struggling to make ends meet.

Finally, road crashes have a direct impact on human capital — the health, knowledge, and skills that help people become productive members of society.

Data show that road crash deaths and injuries disproportionately affect adults during their prime years of working and raising a family, and rank among the leading causes of long-term disability.