1,100 children killed on roads in 2023: Road Safety Foundation

Nobody talks about Yeasin anymore in front of his father Abdul Khaleque. Seven-year-old Yeasin was killed in a road accident in June last year. His family is from the Tarakandi village in Dhunat upazila of Bogura.

Yeasin was a fifth grader. He was playing with his friends beside the road on the day of the accident. He was run over by a paddy-laden three-wheeler. Yeasin was taken to a local hospital, but he died before reaching there, the physicians on duty at the hospital said.

Yeasin’s father Abdul Khaleque was not in the country at the time. He returned after his son’s death. Prothom Alo spoke to Yeasin’s uncle Abu Taleb on Friday. He was saying, “We don’t talk about our son (Yeasin) any more. His father faints crying if we take his name.”

Yeasin was the lone child of his parents. They are passing days in unbearable pain after losing their boy. Children are being killed in road accidents every day.

The Road Safety Foundation has prepared a research report on road accidents in 2023. It shows that as many as 1,128 children were killed in road accidents across the county in 2023 alone. It means that more than three children died on roads every day last year.

The vehicles involved in these accidents include buses, trucks, microbuses, ambulances, auto-rickshaws and locally made three-wheelers.

The highest number of accidents involving child death was recorded on regional roadways. Most of these children fell victim to road accidents on their way to educational institutions or while returning or while playing beside the roads near their house.

The Road Safety Foundation has prepared the report based on information collected from nine national dailies, seven online news portals, electronic media and its own source. It will officially publish the report in the capital today, Saturday.

Accidents and child death

According to the figures of the Road Safety Foundation, a total of 6,911 incidents of road accidents were recorded last year killing some 6,524 people. More than 17 per cent of them were children. Besides, a total of 11,407 people sustained injuries in these accidents.

Although the number of accidents increased in 2023 as compared to the previous year, casualties from these incidents declined. The number of children killed in road mishaps last year also dwindled slightly as compared to 2022.

Road Safety Foundation executive director Saidur Rahman said, “Our roads and transports are not child friendly. Roads are adjacent to schools or houses in many places. Buildings are not constructed maintaining a safe distance from the roads. Besides, there are no overpasses or speed breakers near the schools in many places. As a result, we are enduring irreparable losses every day.”

It has been found in the research that more than 40 per cent of these children were run over by buses, trucks and private cars. A large portion of these children died after being run over by CNG-run auto-rickshaws, easy bikes and other local transport on rural or regional roadways. Around 16 per cent children were killed by speeding motorcycles, and some 7 per cent died after being run over by locally made three-wheelers.

Child death: Roads, times and age

The total length of national and regional roads across the country is more than 22,000 kilometres. There are more than 300,000 kilometres of rural roads in the country.

Analysing child deaths based on the types of roads, it has been found that more than 37 per cent of children were killed on regional roads, followed by highways, rural roads and roads in city areas.

The analysis of the Road Safety Foundation shows that children’s death on roads in 2023 decreased as compared to the previous year, but increased on regional roads. More than one-third of the accidents that killed children occurred in the afternoon. However, the number of accidents in the morning and evening is also high.

Some 43 per cent of the children who died in road accidents last year were aged between six to 12 years and 37 per cent aged between 13 to 18 years.

Lack of good governance on roads

The report has cited unplanned construction of roads, lack of proper maintenance and reckless movement of vehicles as the main reasons behind children’s deaths on the road.

However, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) chairman Nur Mohammad Mazumder claimed that roads are being constructed in a planned way now. He said, “We have been stressing on following the rules on the roads for the last two years. We already have some results. Everyone must abide by the rules. All the quarters must follow the rules. There is a lack of awareness among the people in this regard.”

However, Moazzem Hossain, former director of the Accident Research Institute in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), feels that although awareness is a key factor, the main reason behind child death on roads is the ‘lack of good governance on roads’.

He said roads are being constructed cursorily as it is related to some political and financial benefits. However, public safety is highly ignored in this case.

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