Driving instructors

Who to blame for dangerous coach driving on Bangladesh’s highways

Some of the injured, interviewed by bdnews24.com after the incident, instead blamed Arif, saying he was driving recklessly to make up for some lost hours when the coach suffered a mechanical breakdown at Savar in Dhaka.

“We have installed GPRS technology in every coach we operate and inform our drivers each time of speed limits, motorway conditions and weather conditions when they are about to start a shift. But they hardly listen to us,” said Saidul Islam, director of Jamuna Line Paribahan.

Khandaker Enayet Ullah, general secretary of the Bangladesh Road Transport Owners Association, believes that enforcement of existing speed laws is the key to controlling reckless driving on highways.

“There will be no reduction in the number of accidents until existing speed laws are strictly enforced. Do this, and you will see the numbers [of the accidents] drop exponentially,” he said.

Ali Ahmed Khan, Superintendent of Gazipur Traffic Police, said the responsibility lies more with the operators.

“We have advised operators to install the governor’s seal [centrifugal governor] at each meeting. But they don’t. And if we stop all the coaches that break the speeding law on the motorways, then we would face traffic jams for miles. The idea is neither reasonable nor practical,” he said.

THE “SPEED LIMIT” DEBATE

In Bangladesh, the general rule for the maximum speed limit on the highway is 80 km/h.

Experts, however, said that except for some four-lane highways like Dhaka-Chattogram and the recently inaugurated Mawa highway, hardly any other highway in Bangladesh is safe enough to drive at such speed.

Md Hadiuzzman, a professor at the Center for Accident Research at BUET, said the chances of passenger survival are directly correlated to the speed of a moving vehicle. More speed means higher risk of losses, he said.

“In our research, we have never found a coach that runs below the 80 to 90 km/h threshold.”