The number of casualties in Dhaka in the last couple of years has reached an alarming rate. Almost every day someone is losing life or becoming injured. It seems that all the awareness programmes that are being conducted by government and non-government organisations regarding traffic safety are being done in vain because not much improvement has been observed. Although, drivers, especially drivers of the public transit are the mainly responsible for the high casualty rate in Dhaka, several reports by electronic and print media has demonstrated that failure to comply to traffic laws and to use designated pedestrian facilities by pedestrians is also another main reason for the high casualty rate in Dhaka. Therefore, not only the drivers but also the pedestrians are responsible for the accidents in the city and thus, everyone has a role to play in reducing the traffic related accident in the city or else the efforts by the government and non-government organisations will continue to go in vain.
The two main reasons for this high accident rate are lack of respect for law and lack of respect for others. This is happening because of intolerance and impatient behaviour. To increase respect for law and to increase respect for others, two behavioural changes has been identified- tolerance and patience that every resident in the city regardless of whether they are driver, riding motorcycle, rickshaw puller or pedestrian should take when they go outside. Traffic accidents in Dhaka may reduce if people sincerely adopt these two changes in their behaviour and in fact these two behaviour changes will also increase social unity and patriotism.
It seems that everyone in the capital is in a huge competition with each other to prove that he is the king of the road and that he is somehow beyond the traffic law. Everyone tries to beat others with speed; no one can stand or bear others. Rickshaws are seen to be trying to compete with buses, while pedestrians are seen to bet their life by crossing the road even when they see that a vehicle is approaching towards them at a high speed and they are doing this even when they have the option of using the foot over bridge. Motor cyclists act as if traffic laws are only applicable to four wheel vehicles. No one seems to have any tolerance or patience. This type of behaviour is greatly hampering safety.
Intolerant behaviour creates some kind of hatred and disgust towards other people. This increases the chances of losing respect for other people and even for the law of the land as people tend to lose their humbleness. Intolerant behaviour makes us think that we are above law, especially traffic laws. This attitude has to change, we have to learn to be tolerant and understand that the road is for all users. If we are tolerant about other people, it will automatically help us to respect others and help us appreciate that everyone is important. Tolerant behaviour will also make us humble and also help us to respect traffic laws and the authority in charge of enforcing the laws.
People need to understand that their impatient behaviour on the road may save couple of minutes but in the process they are risking their lives as well as lives of other citizens. It is better to be patient and delay the journey by a couple of minutes than being impatient and trying to save couple of minutes because this greatly increases the chance of getting injured or injuring someone else.
If we can try to be tolerant and patient, there is a great potential that our respect for the law of the land and for others will increase. The unnecessary rage that prevails amongst us will not be there anymore, which will create a sense of unity, love and affection towards each other. Instead of trying to compete with each other we will take care of each other as our own family member.
If we see someone violating traffic rules, instead of trying to quarrel, we can be tolerant and patient and try to nicely explain to them that what they are doing may not be right and it may hamper our safety. We should always try to put up a smile instead of a frowned look. If someone is tries to overtake, or if we feel that someone is trying to compete with us we should try to slow down and let him pass. At traffic signals we should strictly follow the traffic lights or the traffic police whichever is applicable. Intersections are one of the major places of collisions, and that is why we should always have extra patience at intersections. We may not like traffic laws but we have to try to appreciate that those laws are there for our safety so that we can go home safely.
The writer is a transportation engineer at the Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand
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