The Express Tribune Editorial 27 January 2021
It is estimated that over 1.2 million people around the world are killed in road accidents while in Pakistan over 15,000 people lose their lives every year. Even though road safety is a major issue, not many are aware of its severity. The problem, which seems to be intensifying by the day, needs to be addressed at an urgent basis in order to save lives.
In an attempt to do so, the Pakistan Red Crescent Society has launched an initiative to raise public awareness about road safety. Apart from promoting the idea of ‘Individual Road Safety Commitment Cards’, the project aims to tackle post-crash response time by providing first-aid training to traffic and motorway police so that maximum lives can be saved. While the wholesome initiative is a step in the right direction and also aims to achieve the SDGs, the issue of road safety, however, encapsulates multiple different factors that need to seriously be considered.
The transport system and road infrastructure in many major cities across Pakistan are dilapidated. Roads and bridges are worn out while gutter lines and manholes remain open. Furthermore, thousands of ramshackle busses and rickshaws violate multiple vehicle safety laws, which in any other country would never be allowed to run. Petty corruption in the form of bribes allows commuters to break traffic rules. It also merits a mention that Pakistan’s policy shift in the late 1970s, from railway to roadway as the major mode of transportation, introduced heavy vehicles for which highways were not designed. All this coupled with the lack of design safety awareness with regard to the construction of underpasses, bridges and roundabouts has added to the complexity of the problem.
Little in being done to prevent horrific accidents from occurring on a daily basis. The need for a well-designed transport system and the importance of road safety not only promote safety for citizens, but also play a crucial role in economic development and defence. A safe and well-connected country encourages national growth.