5 reasons why road accidents are an everyday affair in Nepal

File Image: A minitruck that caught fire after falling off the road, in Rabiopi, Banepa of Kavre, on Monday, June 25, 2018.

Most of the Nepalis associate road accidents with bad luck or inevitable happenings. But, the numbers and the studies suggest something else.

These accidents are not mere cases of bad luck, but there are multiple deep causes. In the last fiscal year 2019/20 only, there were 10,030 road accidents with 153 casualties, as per the annual accidental description of the traffic police.

There has been about an 18 per cent rise in the number of road accidents compared to the fiscal year 2018/19. Likewise, the numbers do not seem to drop in the current fiscal year 2020/21 as well because 3,747 road accidents with 68 casualties have already been recorded within the first five months of the year.

With hundreds of traffic police personnel deployed in the country and with such strict traffic rules and regulations, why is the number of road accidents still climbing up every day in Nepal?

Let’s dig deeper into the causes or reasons why road accidents are an everyday affair in Nepal.

1. Negligence of driver/rider

File: Traffic police interrogating a scooter rider

One of the studies of the road traffic accidents in the Kathmandu valley proved that the most road accidents occur due to negligence of the drivers. It is reported that about 60 per cent of road accidents take place due to the carelessness of the drivers. 

Mainly, bike riders become victims of road accidents. Major causes for this include over-speeding, overtaking, lack of attention while driving or riding, not using helmets, using mobile phones while driving, and drink-driving.

Also, there is no system to check the physical and mental health condition of the drivers or riders. Likewise, the drivers of both long routes and short routes are having to drive constantly without a rest which also increases the risk of road accidents. There is an unhealthy competition among the drivers and vehicle owners, due to which the tendency of overtaking, overspeeding, and carrying passengers more than the capacity of the vehicle is increasing. This is also one of the major causes of the increasing number of road accidents.

2. Negligence of pedestrians

File image: A man crosses a road in Kathmandu as traffic police look on.

Many road accidents take place due to the carelessness of the pedestrians as well. Most of the pedestrians cross the road from the place that is convenient for them rather than crossing the road using zebra crossings or pedestrian bridges even in the place they are available. Similarly, many pedestrians do not use the pavement while walking.

Also, the lack of awareness of traffic light signals and road safety education and ignoring these rules also result in many road accidents are taking place in Nepal.

3. Lack of road infrastructures

File Image: Road potholes full of rain water

Another prime reason for the steady rise of road accidents in Nepal is the lack of road infrastructures. Most of the roads in Nepal are narrow and not blacktopped. Road safety experts also inform that most of the roads are constructed without complying with the road-design standards. The tendency of not researching enough before the road construction and giving permission to all sorts of vehicles to ply constructed roads without prior research are also the major causes of road accidents.

Poor investment in road construction, driving overloaded vehicles, construction of roads without including cycle lanes and pedestrian pavements, thee lack of disabled-friendly road structures are other factors that are causing road accidents in Nepal.

4. Mechanical defects

File Image: Vehicle turned turtle

Many studies suggest that many road accidents in Nepal occur due to mechanical defects in the vehicle like brake failure, faulty headlights, and sidelights, tyre blowouts, malfunctioning of the steering system. and other systems.

Although there is a provision of a vehicle fitness test in Nepal, it has not been implemented properly. Due to that, many vehicles are avoiding fitness tests and running in the ruined conditions inviting many road crashes and casualties.

5. Lack of implementation  of traffic rules

File Image: A dummy donned as a traffic police staffer in Kathmandu, in September 2020.

It is not that Nepal does not have any rules aimed at preventing road accidents. Instead, road accidents are increasing due to the lack of proper implementation of those rules and regulations.

 “The Government of Nepal (GoN) has a National Road Safety Strategy and Road Safety Action Plan (RSAP, 2013–2020), based on the five UN Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 pillars: road safety management; safer roads and mobility; safer vehicles; safer road users; and post-crash response (GoN 2013). The RSAP is yet to be fully implemented,” reports Delivering Road Safety in Nepal Leadership Priorities and Initiatives to 2030, a work by the World Bank.

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