Fundaments of Road Traffic Safety

 By Ashish Gajurel, Traffic Engineer

Presence of railways is negligible in Nepal while airway is limited and expensive. Therefore road transport is the major mode of transport and plays a significant role in connecting various parts of the country.  Although roadway is the major mode of transport it remains underdeveloped with poor quality. Road capacity in Nepal is very low with most highways having one lane per direction. Because of such factors the rate of road accidents is extremely high. Poor quality of roads and poor maintenance has resulted in cracks and potholes, which are also the reasons for traffic accidents. These are the infrastructural factors of road accidents.

Besides infrastructural deficiency, behavioral aspects of the road´s stakeholders (motorist, non-motorist, cyclist and pedestrians) are other important reasons for traffic accidents.  Roads should be treated as shared spaces by all stakeholders but in reality harmonic relationships between them are missing. Traffic rules including lane discipline, traffic signals as well overtaking rules are not properly followed.

Improvement in infrastructure is vital which is carried out and is the responsibility of the government but change in the behavior of road’s stakeholders is an individual responsibility and should be encouraged to improve traffic safety.

Motorist and motorcyclist need to control the speed, maintain lane discipline, use head lights and side lights properly, and overtake other vehicles only from right hand side. They also need to follow the direction of traffic police and traffic lights strictly.

Non-motorist including bicyclist should always use the left hand side of the road and carefully follow traffic signals and traffic police directions. There are no separate bicycle lanes and therefore it is of utmost importance for bicyclist to be extra careful along with necessitating use of bicycle lights to ensure safety at night.

Pedestrian is a vulnerable stakeholder of the road and needs to be protected. Nepal´s road mostly lacks sidewalks for them. In absence of sidewalks, the pedestrian should always walk on the side of road. According to the survey report from the US Federal Bureau of Transportation Safety- the pedestrian is solely at fault in 43% of car-pedestrian collisions and that only both are at fault in 13% of collisions. Chances of death or injury can be reduced by obeying traffic rules and being aware of dangers posed by cars. For example: 58% of pedestrian-car crashes occur while the pedestrian is crossing the street according to the survey. Pedestrians need to use zebra crossings, footpaths and overhead bridges wherever provided.

The above mentioned fundaments are directly proportional to traffic safety and if followed would ensure safer roads in Nepal.