Wandering motorcyclists, lax law enforcement regarding

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The sharp increase in the number of motorcycle accidents and fatalities suggests lax enforcement of traffic rules on the roads and the propensity of motorcyclists to disobey traffic rules. A report by the Road Safety Foundation, released on November 20, shows that at least 2,097 people were killed and 1,286 injured in 2,003 motorcycle crashes between January and October. The number of motorcycle accidents, as the report in hand shows, increased by 19.28% and fatalities in these accidents increased by 21.17% compared to 2021. The report also shows that 73% of victims were young and that approximately 31.4% of accidents occurred when motorcyclists lost control of their vehicle. Motorcycles, which are said to be 30 times riskier than four-wheeled vehicles due to their vulnerable characteristics, have outnumbered all other vehicles across the country. Less than ten years ago, the number of motorbikes accounted for about 10% of all registered motor vehicles, while motorbikes now constitute, according to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, nearly 70% of all registered vehicles. Currently, out of the 55,000 motor vehicles registered in Bangladesh, 71.38% are motorcycles.

Studies show that motorcyclists are most likely to break traffic rules, with the most common offenses being reckless driving, failure to maintain lanes and speed limits, and failure to wear protective gear such as helmets. Also concerning are the irregularities and lack of oversight in the increasingly popular ride-sharing service industry, where many unlicensed and uncertified companies and vehicles are reportedly pursuing the operation. Many companies and motorbikes offering ridesharing services reportedly did not receive an enrollment certificate, which is mandatory under the 2017 Ridesharing Services Directive. Although ride-sharing services using motorbikes have become popular as they can save time in congested cities, untrained motorcyclists employed under these services are often the cause of fatal accidents. As these bikers have non-professional driving licenses, their driving skills are not tested by any authority. Almost none of the riders have received training from any government agency or ride-sharing companies for carrying passengers. Among other violations, the directive requires companies to maintain an SOS system at their service so that it can automatically send information about the location of riders and passengers to the national emergency helpline, but the most carpooling companies would not have implemented the guidance clause.

Lax enforcement of the Road Transport Act 2018 and little oversight of ride-sharing services, combined with a lack of motorcycle training and awareness, have all contributed to an increase in motorcycle-related accidents. The authorities concerned must, in the circumstances, look into the issues and act accordingly, while motorcyclists must respect the traffic rules.

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