Road Safety in Nepal

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

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10 thoughts on “Road Safety in Nepal”

  1. About this vehicle that met a fatal accident, it’s said that the driver was drunk, and was driving at a high speed.

    While your suggestions for strengthening road safety are genuine, I feel they will meet a sharp opposition by the road workers. And, there will be more strikes.

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  2. This accident was caused purely due to human error and negligence. Just because, the driver had got himself drunk even after two of the teachers of the school had told him to not to drink while driving. Because of the irresponsible driver many innocent lives were lost.

    We’ve heard stories like this before too. School children enjoy their picnic and return back. But due to the driver being drunk the vehicle gets off the road and many lives are lost. The drivers have to be responsible.

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  3. We all are responsible for this carnage in road. Schools for taking too much children in old rotten bus, parents for allowing the children to ride these bus, driver for their negligence in driving, government for pretty much else, i.e, no checking of bus status, no timely maintainance is required, bus chassis is made without thinking about center of gravity, poor tires, poor road, no punishment to drivers, no rule of law. So unless every body think twice about this situation this problem is going to repeat again and again.

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  4. some of the points to reduce accidents:
    1: send some groups of traffic with radar, video camera to detect speed, and to record proof. if someone found guilty fine them 1000 for first negligence and 25000 for third. ……………………. if they do not cooperate arrest them if they go for violent demonstration … shut them………………………. only place they can show their dissatisfaction is court and if court finds them guilty they should pay 5-10 times more …………….. there should be seperate court that would make prompt jugdement…………………………………..
    ………………………………………………………………………….there will be solution as well as generate budget…………………………………………………………………………….. somebody needs to stop, punish wild drivers, tape bikers………..

    2: force insurance police. if someone doesnot insure or some bureaucrat doesnot comply it, there should be harsh punishment ………………….. educate public that they do not have to demonstrate to get damages. or if there is a fault from driver’s side, he will be punished ……. ………………………………… if they still go for demonstration……………….. the money from damages wil be used to pay for the damages occur from such demonstration.

    3: punish parents who let their children play in the road.

    4: educate public the safe way to walk in the street.

    5: force the drivers owners to keep their vehicles in good condition

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  5. some measure are
    1 public awareness
    2 develop beter road service
    3 need to give traffic knowledge to all the road users
    4 control the movement of pets that are left in the road
    5 modern networking system must be develope so that speed of each vehucle can be checked and control over the speed can be done.

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  6. I nearly fell asleep behind the wheel the other day but i had my anti sleep alarm on and it sounded so i pulled over and had a break. They are not that expensive and i got mine from no nap

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