KARACHI: Speakers at a seminar held in Karachi University (KU) on Thursday highlighted the gravity of road safety issues in the country and said that Pakistan topped the list of Asian countries having the highest number of deaths in road traffic accidents whereas Karachi ranked fourth in these kinds of deaths in the world.
They also pointed out that the annual loss the city suffered due to road accidents was estimated to be Rs47.8 billion.
The seminar on road safety was organised by the KU’s department of geography.
Highlighting major factors causing road accidents, Prof Mir Shabbar Ali, the dean faculty of civil and petroleum engineering at NED University of Engineering and Technology, said that 67 per cent of accidents occurred due to human errors whereas poor infrastructure, road designing and deteriorating road conditions were responsible for 28pc of road accidents.
Experts say improved road designs can reduce accidents
“The share of unfit vehicles (in road accidents) is found to be five per cent. There is a dire need to improve road designs as they are not up to standards. If we consider all relevant components while constructing roads, then we can definitely reduce number of road accidents,” Prof Ali noted.
Giving a presentation, assistant professor at KU’s department of geography Dr Salman Zubair said that Pakistan was among those countries witnessing a rise in road accidents.
“Teenagers are more than five times at risk to suffer an accident than drivers in their 30s. The average fatality age due to road accidents in Karachi is 29 years and 65pc of the victims are youths,” he said, adding that human factors causing road accidents included underage driving/riders, overspeeding, drunk driving, using mobile phones while driving and the practice of not wearing helmets or seatbelts.
Sharing results of his PhD thesis, Prof Zubair said that the annual loss the city suffered due to road accidents included the average cost of lost labour output in Karachi due to fatal road accidents, which was estimated to be more than Rs4.5 million, cost of road damages and the cost road accident victim or his family incurred due to injury treatment.
Citing the World Health Organisation data, he said that nearly 1.2 million people died whereas 20 to 50 million people suffered non-fatal injuries in road accidents every year in the world.
He also talked about how roads had become riskier over the years worldwide and said that road traffic injuries which ranked 9th in the global burden of diseases in 1990 had been estimated to rank 4th in 2020.
DIG Traffic Police Javed Ali Mahar emphasised the need for benefiting from the research being conducted at the university level to help reduce road accidents.
He endorsed Prof Ali’s suggestion that improved road designs could play a critical role in road safety and urged that students follow traffic rules and regulations.
Umer Tafazzul, a senior patrol officer associated with the National Highways and the Motorway Police, was of the opinion that ignorance about traffic laws also contributed to accidents.
“Many precious lives could be saved if citizens follow traffic rules. Every road user should allow ambulances and fire tenders [to] make their way through traffic as emergency vehicles have the right of way and are supposed to reach their destinations on time.”
Earlier, students and guest speakers participated in a walk on road safety organised on the campus.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2019