Licence to kill

  • Govt needs to rein in trucks running amok on streets leaving a trail of carnage

Jul 13, 2018-

Fatal road accidents make regular headlines. Amid this, the Home Ministry’s decision to banish tipper trucks from all three districts of the Kathmandu Valley during the day—a much needed and long overdue action—is welcome. The decision follows a rise in the number of fatalities caused by tipper-related accidents.

On Tuesday, Royal Subedi of Jhapa who was residing at Dudhpati was killed after being hit by a dump truck at Jadibuti. Likewise, scooty rider Asmita Rajbhandari was killed at the same place in another tipper-related incident on June 13. Both were riding pillion. According to the Metropolitan Police Department, 19 people have lost their lives in the last month alone in tipper-related accidents. 

The figures published by the Nepal Police show that a total of 2,385 persons were killed in 10,178 road accidents in 2016-17 compared to 2,006 deaths in 10,013 mishaps in the last fiscal. Among the total deaths, 182 occurred in the Capital alone. The number of people losing their lives due to road accidents in Kathmandu was 166 in the last fiscal year. The data shows a rising trend of auto accidents and fatalities in the country each year. Water tankers and dump trucks account for nearly 30 percent of the accidents due to negligence, speeding and non-compliance with traffic rules. Also, many a time the roads are dangerous, the vehicles are in bad condition and are overloaded too. Reasons abound. 

Nepal’s treacherous and mountainous terrain means that it will be extremely difficult to completely put an end to road accidents. However, they can be minimised in numerous ways. Upgradation of road infrastructure is one crucial way through which safety can be ensured. The Department of Roads will have to make steady efforts to this end in the days ahead. Nonetheless, this will be a gradual process. But possibly we are missing something more fundamental: Does the ability of drivers to handle vehicles and their knowledge of road ethics have something to do with these accidents?

Perhaps more important is the behaviour of the vehicle owners and drivers. Many drivers are reckless and impatient and blatantly flout rules and regulations. What’s more, most have been fraudulently licensed too. This coupled with unroadworthy vehicles have caused not just accidents, but needless deaths too. 

To ensure road safety, the government’s regulatory agencies should ensure that drivers are well vetted before being given licences, that reckless driving is punished, and that transport businesses follow certain guidelines to ensure the quality and maintenance of vehicles. To this end, the government’s decision to ban tippers from the streets during the day when they are usually overcrowded with vehicles will serve as a regulation in favour of traffic safety to some extent. But more importantly, it is not just a question of getting a driving licence. Getting behind the wheel demands a sacred responsibility for the lives of others and our own lives. 

Published: 13-07-2018 07:48

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