Driving, the most sensitive job on the road, seems to be becoming reckless job in recent times. Last week, a truck driver crushed a student in Nepalgunj inviting widespread protests from the students and the locals. According to the locals, the student who lost both of her legs in that incident, was actually pushed to that stage when the truck driver rolled back the truck over her when he noticed that she was only injured. Locals suspect that the truck driver actually intended to kill her. A common psychology guiding the drivers of public transport seems to be that it is better to end the life of the injured by rolling back the vehicle than to bear the medical expenses of the seriously injured pedestrian for as long as the victim lives. This is the reason why many drivers tend to crush the pedestrian to pulp. Besides, they are also guided by the idea that even if they are put behind the bars, the transport associations they are part of will finally come to their rescue and release them from jail. And such mentality has been thriving because of lax law to discipline the drivers or the poor execution of existing laws. This is one alarming factor which is raising the graph of road accidents in the country.
Available data shows that road accidents have become a major threat to people’s lives in Nepal. According to the statistics of Nepal Police released in May this year, road accidents killed as many as 11,005 lives between 2014 and 2019 and altogether 19,877 people were seriously injured in those accidents. As many as 48,981 accidents were recorded across the country in five years. Reckless driving has been identified as one of the major causes in most of the accidents. Often road accident reports mention that drivers were not concentrating or they were over-speeding. In either case, the driver is responsible. Of course, this is not to suggest that we should put all drivers in the same basket and that all drivers are reckless. They are not. But even if a few drivers put safety of passengers and pedestrians in priority some of such incidents could be reduced. And if the state agencies strictly enforce punitive measures and they will also start fearing law, which will directly contribute to reducing accidents.
Nepal Police may begin by bringing programs to orient and educate the drivers about the consequences of reckless driving. Needless to say, driver’s behavior alone is not the sole factor in raising the number of accidents. Most of our roads are in the state of total disrepair. We do not have adequate human resources to manage the traffic on major highways. But when drivers themselves become the cause of pedestrians’ injury, as was the case in Nepalgunj last week, we need to give it a serious thought. A situation should be created whereby a person does not have to lose their life simply because of utter carelessness of the drivers on the road or the driver does not become the cause of injury or death of the person. It seems a drive to discipline the drivers needs to be launched across the country.