Aditya Neupane of My City talked to engineer Dilman Singh Basnet member of Safe and Sustainable Travel Nepal and Road Safety Awareness Committee of Nepal Engineers’ Association and Division Chief at Community Infrastructure Division, Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF). Following is a short excerpt of the interview with him.
Why is this day celebrated and how long has it been celebrated in Nepal?
The World Day of Remembrance was first held in 1993 by Road Peace in United Kingdom and since then it has been practiced by different non-governmental organizations in different countries worldwide. On October 26, 2005, the United Nation adopted a resolution which calls for government to mark the third Sunday of November each year as World Day of Remembrance for road traffic victims. On November 20, 2016 with co-ordination with Metropolitan Traffic Police and leadership of Safe and Sustainable Travel Nepal (SSTN) a candle lighting event was held in the remembrance of road traffic victims on World Day of Remembrance for the first time in Nepal with a motive to raise awareness about the need of road traffic safety.
What are the major causes of road accidents in Nepal?
In context of Nepal, road traffic crashes are the consequence of various factors, such as drives’ negligence and lack of knowledge about traffic rules, among others. Physical, mental, psychological and behavioral aspect of road user such as reckless driving, immaturity, over-speeding, unsafe overtaking, driving under influence of alcohol are also the major contributors of road crashes in our country. Road geometry, such as inadequate sight distance, sharp curves, steep gradient, poor road condition due to lack of maintenance are the engineering aspect that might cause crashes. Vehicular factors contributing to road crashes include poorly maintained vehicles, low brake efficiency, overloading of vehicles and so on.
How can we reduce road accidents in Nepal?
Things will not improve overnight. The Koteshwor-Suryabinayak road section is an example of the same. We are not ready for the infrastructure. Our focus is on infrastructure but not on building the attitude and behavior to use those infrastructures properly. That's where road safety and other social issues fail to improve. There is the need to improve road safety education among public.
Do you think our traffic laws are working ? Why/ Why not?
We do have enough traffic rules. You see, the recent "no horn" policy in Kathmandu was highly criticized as a stunt. But we can see the difference. People were amazed to see that they can drive without blowing horn. Its effect rippled throughout the country. We know blowing horn is not good, but we do. Why? Because we are habituated to do so and we fear we cannot walk the other direction. We don't need punishment to be social, to do what’s good for the society and ourselves. All we need is to be shown that we can do what is right and will be safe.