Print Edition - 2014-11-04  |  Development

Monitoring traffic and vehicle safety must for preventing road accidents

- NIRMALA ADHIKARI
Monitoring traffic and vehicle safety must for preventing road accidents

Nov 3, 2014-

Alarming rise in road accidents and fatalities in the recent time has raised concerns over the issue of traffic and road safety in the country. Efforts that are being made to reduce the number of road accidents are not enough. The authorities have failed to enforce vehicle safety and driving regulations, monitor roads and manage the country’s transportation system.

Old, poorly maintained vehicles are still ferry passengers; inexperienced drivers, without basic knowledge about driving safety, speed through treacherous bends; and the roads in some parts of the country can hardly fit a vehicle at a time, with the wheels on one side rolling just a few inches from the edge of a sheer cliff.  Operators of public transport service, meanwhile, lack accountability whenever a vehicle crashes because of some mechanical error which could have been identified and fixed through a simple tune-up.

In such a situation, the need for a central body for road safety management has been felt by all. A central agency that can effectively coordinate with all stakeholders involved in road safety is a basic requirement for improving road safety in the country.

The government had set up National Road Safety Council during the 1990s to undertake road safety interventions, but it has been defunct for a few years now, due to various reasons including its faulty design.

The authorities say that they have been working to revive the council. Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT), says a parliamentary committee has been making preparations to direct the concerned authorities for the council’s revival. “As road safety is a shared responsibility, all concerned sectors need to work together to ensure safety and minimise accidents,” says Sitaula.

The Road Safety Strategy of Nepal, which was formed to mitigate the loss of life, properties and economic loss from Road Traffic Accidents (RTAs), has also proposed establishment of the council. Nepal Road Safety Action Plan (2013-2020) suggests adopting broad strategies for road safety improvements by empowering it with the legal authority to delegate various agencies.

Besides monitoring road safety initiatives of different agencies, the action plan has proposed that the council would regularly disseminate its research findings, delegate specific responsibilities to the stakeholders and legally mandate regular reporting requirements from them. The council would also provide a common framework for stakeholders to implement various interventions required to mitigate RTAs.

As per the Action Plan, the existing road safety council would be revitalised with the higher authority to delegate and implement its activities and would be backed with the necessary act, to give it a legal standing.

Setting up a central body to oversee road safety could be the best initiative to ensure road safety and reduce road accidents, says Ashish Gajurel, a traffic engineer. “The council can only be effective if the authorities succeed to make it an independent body. The council should comprise of the team of technical experts to assist in its daily activities and work for minimising accidents.”

The lack of focus on safety measures while constructing roads is also a major reason for road accidents. “There are so many faults in the system, including poor road conditions, old vehicles, lack of safety and lack of skilled drivers. The authorities need to make improvements on all these areas to ensure road safety,” says Gajurel.

Published: 04-11-2014 08:56

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