Road mishaps in front of educational institutes in Dhaka city are frequent. When a student falls victim to any mishap, fellow students become disgruntled. They protest, block street, vandalise vehicles and demand exemplary punishment of the driver. And the scene repeats itself over and over. No doubt, drivers often flout traffic rules and endanger pedestrians’ life. But are the pedestrians careful enough to save their own lives? I guess no. Pedestrians are as reckless as the drivers are.
In early 2005, the death of DU student Shammi Akter Happy in a road accident heated up the campus. Among many other things, students demanded an over bridge at Shabagh interjection. Subsequently, though a bit later, their demand was met. And now the over bridge is gathering dust. People are seen jaywalking across the road and, at times, scampering in front of a speedy bus.
Last year a student of Govt. Titumir College was injured in a road accident in front of the college. Students, as usual, ran amok on the street. Later the government built a foot over bridge over the main road. But the bridge remains unused.
Students of Dhaka College recently protested at the death of a fellow student in similar fashion. As the bus driver was arrested, his fellow drivers took to the street, too, demanding his release.
Bangladesh has one of the highest fatality rates of road accidents in the world. According to a recent study of Accident Research Centre of Bangladesh University of Engineering Technology, some 10,000 to 12,000 people are killed in road accidents in Bangladesh every year. These mishaps occur because of shoddy highways, poorly maintained vehicles, violation of traffic rules by inept drivers and lack of monitoring by the traffic department. Pedestrians’ disregard for traffic rules is a big problem too.
Many pedestrians say they prefer crossing road instead of going over bridge as they are in a hurry to reach their destination. Many say they are forced to act like that, as footbridges are occupied by hawkers. Many walk along the streets, as there is no room to walk on footpaths in many areas of the city. Besides, the number of footbridges is too inadequate.
One thing that is clear is that many people are not aware of traffic rules. They think it’s the driver who needs to follow the traffic rules. People do need proper education in this regard. So, students should be taught about traffic rules first.