Holiday time has a negative reputation universally when many accidents occur. In some places, the increase in road traffic accidents can be attributed to celebration and drunk driving. Even though holiday accidents have become an increasing trend in Pakistan too, alcohol is not the main cause for death and injury in the accidents here. In the majority of traffic accident reports, it is often speeding or disobeying other traffic safety rules that result in loss of life. Although a more profound analysis needs to be completed for the sake of public safety, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province experienced 1,785 road traffic accidents over the few days of Eidul Azha. This is an exorbitant figure, particularly when we examine other statistics.
According to the WHO, the overall number of traffic accident deaths in 2017 in Pakistan was 27, 081. In 2013, the WHO reported this figure as 25,781 deaths. Although the figure from K-P is the total number of accidents, not deaths, it is alarmingly high and makes it incumbent upon the government to require overhaul of road and traffic safety across the country. Greater accountability is required for any operator of a motor vehicle. Provincial traffic safety administrations must apply traffic laws to all drivers equally with all facing the same consequences as they are written. Despite reports that certain measures in K-P have been adopted such as fines for seatbelt and helmet violations, the high number of accidents calls for a further revision of the implemented plans. Better road design, heavier fines, greater patrolling, easier access to traffic safety rule books with consequences for violations should be explored.
Awareness on safe driving practices and driving risk needs to spread. Additionally, obtaining a driving licence has been a cumbersome process across provinces rife with corruption, dissuading many from securing the legal document permitting one to operate a vehicle. A systematic change needs to be adopted in order to mitigate risk to human life when it comes to road safety.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2018.