By Lilu Thapa
OVERCOME WITH GRIEF: Guardians of Pravin and Prabeg Subedi, who died in Thursday’s bus accident in Nawalparasi, at Bharatpur Hospital on Friday afternoon. Pic by Dipendra Baduwal
The bus accident in Nawalparsi which caused death of almost a half century of Children on the way back from a picnic highlights the road safety failure of the country. What caused the accident, the core reasons behind and are there no ways to curb such devastating road accidents in the future? Nepal has been marred by many frequent tragic road accidents resulting in deaths of hundreds of people each year. Whenever there is an accident it’s a customary to blame the driver, pedestrian crossing the road or a parked vehicle or even bad condition of the road. But the roots are deeper.
Apart from obvious measures like improvement of roads including widening of roads, construction of flyovers, provision of pedestrian crossings, proper traffics signals lights etc there are other aspects of road safety that needs to be taken into consideration for the improvement of the roads in Nepal.
The condition of the vehicle plying in the road is a major cause of disaster each year, whatever the make or model of the vehicle. There is no law to check the condition of the vehicle on the road. The vehicle that goes on the road is a potential hazard to the other people and to the people travelling in that vehicle itself. The serviceability and road safety parameters of the vehicle should be strictly checked and the vehicles that fail to prove its road worth should not be allowed to go on the road. The laws should be made and a mechanism put into place to make sure that the laws are followed. The vehicles should be checked either yearly or six monthly and given a certificate of road worth. Certain set parameters should be laid down to check the road worthiness of the vehicle. Some might argue it would not be possible but most of the countries have these institutions in place and it is working out fine. If theirs are working why can’t ours?
The way drivers are issued driving licenses in this country is ridiculously simple and complicated as well. The driving licence that authorises a person to go into road with such a potential threat to life and properties are not trained properly before they are issued with licenses. There is no requirement for a formal training before actually taking a test. The test itself is so unscientific and there are thousand ways of getting around the test. The theory test actually asks the candidates about the laws and details of engine and unnecessary things rather than the practical aspects of safe driving. How can a road user be safe if the practical test is a biggest mock of a test? On actual test, after starting a vehicle and moving it forward and back and then parking it into bay a driver is given a pass certificate. And sometimes if you do fail the manoeuvres if you have right contact through an acquaintance or a sum of money paid, you will get your license, no problem.
The issuance of license should be made more scientific and demanding. A full recorded training should be carried out from trained instructors which should include road safety classes, road hazard and dealing with emergencies. The test should be taken only after the trainers are confident that the candidates are fully confident and are read to safely use the road. The test itself should be carried out in actual road making sure that the candidates are fully aware of the road situation, safety and right procedures are followed.
The vehicles and the drivers should be made to undertake a proper insurance before they are allowed to go into the road. In case of an accident, the insured vehicles can pay for the damage they caused to other vehicles and life of the other people in case of fatal accidents. This will also reduce the intentional killing of many people trapped in accidents due to being run over by the drivers. These drivers overrun the injured people in fear of being held responsible for the treatment cost or rest of the crippled lives of the injured people. Compulsory insurance for a driver will also check the uncontrolled growth in the number of vehicles.
The need of the time is to regulate and modernise the roads of Nepal. The disturbing number of vehicle accidents, loss of lives and the disruption of the roads after the accidents has been an absolute non sense and has had a crippling effect in the lives of people. We must make sure that the accidents like that happened in Nawalparasi should not reoccur.
[Almost] related blog:
1. Tales of a Highway Driver in Karnali