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Traffic fatalities on the rise in Afghanistan

Published Date: May 15, 2016

After insecurity and natural disasters, traffic accidents were the third deadliest incidents in recent few years that have raised the mortality rate in the country.

At least 73 people were killed and 70 others injured in the country when a bloody accident occurred on Kabul-Kandahar highway, last week. [1] The incident happened when two passenger buses collided with a fuel tanker in Muqer district, Ghazni province.

The bloody accident triggered reactions about recklessness of the government to prevent such incidents. The Afghan president Ashraf Ghani held a meeting on Tuesday where he ordered a delegation formed of the representatives of five ministries to design and provide Presidential Office a plan to prevent such horrible incidents in the future. [2] On the other hand, a commission headed by first deputy of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was also formed to prevent traffic accidents in the country.

In a consultative meeting with the first deputy of CEO, officials from the Afghan Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation announced that from 943 transportation companies they have canceled licenses of 230 companies because of non-compliance with traffic law[3]. On the other hand, in response to the recent traffic accident the Taliban has said that they would seriously deal with the transportation companies, if such incident was repeated[4]. They announced some mobile numbers to receive passengers’ complaints against the drivers and Transportation Company.

High death toll in traffic accidents in Afghanistan has raised concerns; but the question is why traffic accidents are increasing year after year? and what measures should be held to prevent these accidents?

 

Increasing statistics of traffic accidents

Since 1387, the number of traffic accidents is on the rise in Afghanistan. In 1387, the total number of traffic accidents was 2423[5] , while this figure rose to 4393 in 1392. (Chart-1)

Although there is no specific statistic from traffic accidents in 1393 and 1394; but according to some institutions, traffic incidents are increased in these years. In 1394, traffic accidents are soared to 6729. [6] (Chart-1)

In the past few years most of traffic accidents have occurred due to the high speed of vehicles. For instance, in 1392 from 4393 traffic incidents 1995 of them had occurred by high speed cars.

Chart-1: statistics of traffic accidents in Afghanistan by vehicle type (1387-1394) [7]

 Chart of Traffic fatalities

Fatalities of traffic accidents in Afghanistan

Based on the statistics of World Health Organization (WHO), Afghanistan is one of the countries where the number of casualties caused by traffic accidents is high. According to WHO, due to traffic accidents in 2013, 4734 people are dead in Afghanistan and these incidents have cost the lives of 15.5 people from every one hundred thousand peoples. [8]

On the other hand, the statistics of traffic accidents provided by officials in Afghan government are less than statistics provided by international institutions. For instance, authorities in charge of traffic accidents in Afghanistan stated that in 1393, around 3277 traffic accidents have occurred which have left 1297 people dead and 3946 others injured. [9] According to afghan officials 10 people die from traffic accidents every day in the country.

Besides that, some statistic shows that 70% of traffic fatalities occur on highways; and the remaining 30% occur on roads inside the cities. Based on some other statistics 63% men, 24% children and 13% women are the victims of traffic accidents. [10]

After insecurity, traffic accidents have cost the lives of most of the Afghans in the past few years. From 2005 to 2012, around 35 thousand Afghans are dead due to traffic accidents in all over the country. [11]

 

Factors behinds the rise in traffic accidents

Problems on the roads and highways are repeatedly raised by people and media particularly after occurrence of such accidents but the government has not paid attention to these problems nor have they taken necessary measures to prevent such accident in the future. Various factors can cause horrible traffic accidents but the followings are the main factors of these accidents:

  1. Corruption in traffic institutions: due to corruption in traffic institutions drivers easily get traffic licenses. For example, according to a report, from 100 drivers who were interviewed in Kabul, only 40 of them had said that they have got driving licenses through legal channels, according to report, officially a driver’s license costs 720 Afghanis, but it can also be bought for about 8000 Afghanis. [12] In addition, ignoring violation of traffic law in exchange for bribes is another type of corruption in traffic institutions.
  2. Substandard roads: due to the widespread corruption in road construction contracts, roads are not built according to international standards. On the other hand, lack of control of vehicle weight, explosions and war in Afghanistan have resulted in destruction of roads. Thus narrow and substandard roads are also a factor behind the increasing traffic accidents in the country.
  3. Reckless drivers and violation of traffic law: inattention of transport officials, lack of traffic monitor over vehicles on the highways and lack of a proper traffic law has resulted in violation of traffic regulations by drivers and so far, no transport company has been investigated by Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation.
  4. High speed and lack of traffic signs on the roads: driving with high speed is a serious factor in traffic accidents in the country. Statistics shows that most of the traffic accidents occur by high speed cars. For instance, in 1392, 45.4% of accidents have happened by high speed cars and 25.4% others by motorcycles. On the other hand, there are neither traffic signs nor speed control on highways in Afghanistan which in its own turn has augmented traffic accidents.
  5. Addicted drivers: often drivers of trucks who drive long roads during the nights use drug. The first deputy of Afghan CEO, Engineer Mohammad Khan in a consultative meeting with Minister of Transport and Aviation, Traffic Department, and the man in charge of Transport Companies’ Union said that most of drivers use hashish while driving on highways. Besides that, driving on long ways by one driver causes traffic accidents due to tiredness and drowsiness of driver.
  6. Competition among transport companies: drivers say that transport companies give bonus to the drivers who arrive fast to the destination, and this is another reason behind the high speed of vehicles and thus behind increasing traffic accidents.
  7. Safety precautions: wearing seat built while driving car, wearing helmet while driving motorcycle, can prevent most of the casualties. But ignoring safety rules has caused the dead toll of traffic accident to rise in the country.

 

Solutions and recommendations to prevent traffic accidents

Since protection of people’s lives is a basic duty of the government, therefore, the government must take all necessary measures to prevent such accidents. The followings can be part of the solution to prevent traffic accidents in the country:

  •          Implementation of traffic law; and compliance with safety precaution like wearing seat belts while driving cars and wearing helmets while driving motorcycles.
  •          Fighting corruption in road construction contract, transport and traffic sectors particularly while distribution of driving licenses.
  •       Speedometers and traffic signs must be installed on roads and highways to control speed of vehicles.
  •          The highway traffic has to be enabled.
  •          The weight of vehicles (particularly trucks) must be controlled to prevent destruction of roads.
  •          Teaching traffic signs to school students.

The end

 

[1] Read more in this report of BBC here:

http://www.bbc.com/persian/afghanistan/2016/05/160508_k02-ghazni-accident

[2] you can find detail from the link below:

http://president.gov.af/fa/news/87000

[3] the Afghan Ministry of Transportation and Civil Aviation canceled the licensed of 230 transportation companies:

http://www.bbc.com/persian/afghanistan/2016/05/160510_k04_review_road_safety_meeting

[4] read more here:

http://shahamat-farsi.com/?p=28232

 [5] see details on this link:

 http://cso.gov.af/Content/files/4-44(1).pdf

[6] read more on this link: http://www.tolonews.com/fa/afghanistan/20716-sharp-spike-recorded-in-traffic-accidents-moph?tmpl=component&layout=default

[7] The statistic of traffic accident from 1387 to 1392 is from the statistics of Afghan Central Statistic Organization (CSO) and the statistics of 1393 and 1394 are from the Afghan Ministry of Public Health.

[8] Visit the WHO website online: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/2015/country_profiles/Afghanistan.pdf

[9] Read more:

 http://www.bbc.com/persian/afghanistan/2015/05/150510_k02-afghanistan-accidents-casualties

[10]

The number is in accordance with the fatality statistics in 1392, which media have quoted Traffic Department.

[11] For further information:

http://www.etilaatroz.com/20185

[12] for more information, please see the link below:

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/06/corruption-rife-afghan-traffic-departments-2014627228805766.html

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