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Fixing speed limit is a timely step for the government to make roads safer

Fixing speed limit is a timely step for the government to make roads safer

Hiren Pandit

A new chapter has started in the country's communication system due to the dynamic role of the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges and the issuance of speed limit guidelines for motor vehicles.

However, expressways and highways do not have proper access control, so the speed limit set according to the type of vehicle is correct from Bangladesh's perspective of ensuring the safety of road users. Again, there has been a debate on social media about some aspects of the guidelines, especially the speed limit for motorcycles-children, women, and the elderly people will benefit from setting motorcycle speed limits for rural and urban areas.

The government passed the Road Transport Act 2018 to halve the death rate in road accidents by 2030, under which rules were developed in December 2022. Speed limit guidelines have been issued on May 5, 2024. Everyone believes that the speed limit guidelines for motor vehicles issued by the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges will be essential in preventing accidents and premature deaths.

Also, proper implementation of these guidelines will significantly reduce road accident fatalities and injuries by half as per the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The government plays an unprecedented role in developing the country's road communication system. Still, the number of road accidents cannot be reduced, and the number of casualties is increasing.

Fast and reckless driving is one of the country's leading causes of road accidents. In addition, the uncontrolled speed of motorcycles is constantly taking the lives of many people, including the working youth of the country.
On May 5, the Ministry of Road Transport and Bridges considered rural and urban density factors in formulating motor vehicle speed limit guidelines. According to the type and nature of the road, the speed of different motor vehicles is varied, which is considered by everyone to be a standard issue for road safety.

However, in this case, if the lane is different, implementing the instruction will be easier. If the directive is implemented, reducing accidents and premature deaths on the roads will be possible. It is particularly noteworthy that implementing these guidelines will ensure the safety of vulnerable pedestrians, including women, children, and the elderly on the road.

Due to the bike's low speed, the casualties will be less even if an accident occurs. Also, the reduced speed will provide additional benefits in controlling the motorcycle, which will help avoid unexpected accidents. Many countries worldwide have lowered motorcycle speed limits for road safety in urban areas.

If the speed limit is implemented similarly in Bangladesh, it will be possible to reduce road accidents and loss of life. Even though road deaths and injuries are preventable in Bangladesh, the Road Transport Act 2018 has been enacted, but since no speed limit has been fixed in the last six years, it has not been possible to solve this problem.

The government is to be congratulated for issuing these guidelines now. Road accidents have become a daily occurrence in our country. Daily, the headlines are full of news stories about deaths due to road accidents. Road accidents in our country can never be defined as accidents. Every accident happens due to someone's negligence. So, can an accident caused by someone's negligence be termed an accident? Every human death hurts us deeply. Many times, it is seen that the driver leaves the steering of the vehicle in the hands of his assistant and gets down, and the incompetent assistant gets reckless with the steering on the highway.

eckless driving by incompetent assistants has claimed many lives. The most important thing is that not only is the person killed in a road accident, but the family of the deceased also has to bear this burden for the rest of their lives. After losing the family's bread-earner, darkness falls in the eyes of the family members, and one family has to float in the ocean of danger. After being injured, someone has to live forever as a burden to others with permanent disability.

There is no denying that road accidents will happen if there are cars on the roads and roads, but such accident levels must be tolerable. We also have to consider other factors such as vehicle mechanical failure, reckless driving by pedestrians, and other causes of accidents. BUET's Road Accident Research Institute (ARI) analyzed police reports on the causes of accidents and said that 53 percent of road accidents in the country are due to over-speeding. Thirty-seven percent of the accidents are due to the reckless attitude of the drivers. In other words, 90 percent of accidents occur due to the irresponsible attitude and speed of the driver.

According to their research, 43 percent of road accidents occur on national highways. According to the data provided by the Highway Police, 347 people lost their lives, and 313 were injured in 327 accidents in the Comilla Highway region in 2022.

Three hundred six people lost their lives, and 357 people were injured in 347 accidents in 9 months from January to September 2023. In 2022, 181 accidents occurred in the Cumilla region of this highway due to reckless speed. According to the survey, the reckless speed of vehicles is the leading cause of 86.33 percent of road accidents in the country. Despite being the slowest city in the world, Dhaka has more road accidents. According to the research report published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research, Dhaka is the slowest city among more than 1,200 cities in 152 countries. The Imad Transport bus driver was drowsy and had recently met with an accident in the Qutubpur area of the Dhaka-Mawa Expressway.

In this case, the diver's need for rest has been neglected. The government has fixed the speed limit of vehicles on the country's roads and highways. According to the Motor Vehicle Speed Limit Guidelines-2024 issued by the Road Transport and Highways Department, the maximum speed of motorcycles in city corporations, municipal areas, and district headquarters will be 30 km per hour. In an instruction letter signed by the chairman of Bangladesh Road Authority BRTA, it is said that the road speed limit has been set in 6 categories for ten types of vehicles. The maximum speed limit for motorcycles - 60 km per hour on expressways, 50 km on national highways (category-A), 50 km on national (category-B) and regional highways, 50 km on district roads, 30 km on city corporations, municipalities, district headquarters, upazila highways, and cities. 30 km of primary urban roads, 20 km of shared highways and other roads, and 20 km of rural roads have been determined in the area. According to the general instructions, motor vehicles must be driven on the highway by the prescribed speed limit.

The maximum speed limit of the roads or highways adjacent to various educational institutions, religious institutions, hospitals, residential areas, and haat-bazars will be determined by the local government organization or the road builder or appropriate organization, but in no case shall it exceed 40 km per hour in the case of national highways and 30 km per hour in the case of regional highways. This speed limit will be relaxed for vehicles engaged in emergency services like ambulance and fire services. The speed limit displayed on the sign will be applicable in hilly areas, curvy road bends, bridges, railway or level crossings, road junctions, markets, religious institutions, educational institutions, and hospitals.

According to the guidelines, legal action will be taken against the concerned under the relevant section of the Road Transport Act, 2018, if the speed limit is violated. The Road Transport and Highways Department has issued 'Motor Vehicle Speed Limit Guidelines, 2024' to reduce the number of deaths and injuries in road accidents by 2030. The number of high-speed vehicles on roads and highways is increasing. Accidents are rising due to excessive speed and reckless driving. The road transport department wants to reduce accidents by half by 2030. However, the speed limit will be relaxed in the case of emergency service ambulance and fire service.

The speed limit policy states that three-wheelers will not be allowed on expressways and highways. He said that guidelines have been given regarding the speed limit. Now, action will be taken against those who violate the speed limit through mobile courts. One of the causes of accidents is low-speed vehicles on the road.

That's why the wheeler policy is being done. People should be aware of this. But many people think that if all types of vehicles run in the same lane, then the speed of vehicles cannot be controlled in any way. The purpose of fixing the speed limit is to restore order on the roads. But how to work by the speed and infrastructure. Properly implementing these laws, regulations, and speed guidelines is the main challenge to preventing road chaos. If all vehicles run in the same lane, more accidents are likely.

However, the implementation of these guidelines is a significant challenge. The government banned three-wheelers on 22 important highways in August 2015, but this has not been fully implemented. About how the authorities will enforce the speed limit across the country, the BRTA Chairman said that the organizations implementing the road project will install the necessary signboards with the speed limit on the roads. Law enforcement will take action against violators. Its implementation is everyone's responsibility, including drivers and road users. While reducing vehicle speed can reduce accidents in urban areas, there are different opinions on whether reducing vehicle speed on expressways will ever mitigate accidents.

Vehicle speeds may be restricted in cities and residential areas. Different lanes can be created to determine the speed of vehicles on highways. There will be a silent vigil by the highway police to prevent speed-limiting cars from entering the fast lane. There is no sign of a speed limit on most Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) and North City Corporation (DNCC) roads, especially in lanes. According to the mechanical department of the company, the number of speed limiters in DSCC is about 175. On the other hand, DNCC does not account for speed limiters. Speed limiters are generally of two types. Although the speed limit is fixed on the Hanif flyover under Dhaka South City, most motorists do not obey it.

The absence of sidewalks or empty sidewalks on roads, the sudden entry of vehicles from feeder roads at railway crossings and highways, an increasing number of small cars, and the lack of service lanes on various national and regional highways result in easy bikes, rickshaws, and autorickshaws coming down from various feeder roads on national and regional highways. These small vehicles reduce the speed of long-distance buses and private cars and cause accidents. They also create traffic jams at essential junctions, road junctions, and bus stops, significantly increasing the risk of accidents.

Writer is an Essayist, columnist and Researcher

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