Road Traffic mishaps are one of the preeminent causes of mortality worldwide. According to the World health organization, globally 1.35 million people die each year due to road traffic injuries. Without proper initiatives, road traffic injuries and fatalities are estimated to intensify from the ninth contributor to the global load of disease in 1990 to third by 2020. The international federation and Red Cross have stated that this condition is “a worsening global disaster destroying lives and livelihoods, hampering development and leaving millions in greater vulnerability”. Evidence implies that this global burden of RTIs is seen to be most prevalent in countries that suffer from poverty, health care, economic, and political challenges.
For instance, traffic accidents are the cause of high mortality and morbidity rates in developing countries, more destructive than epidemics that historically swayed that population; where 5 percent to 20 percent of the diseases are ascribed to road traffic injuries. Pakistan is the first country in Asia and 48th in the world to have the most fatalities due to traffic accidents. It’s quite distressing that the annual casualties in Pakistan range from 7500-8000 while the reported accidents only range from 15000 to 16000. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, the mortality rate per hundred thousand population is 14.2. For decades, Pakistan has historically dealt with poverty, terrorism, urbanization, and motorization. Pakistan’s geographic position has also played a essential key in overpopulation and traffic volumes. Pakistan is located in South Asia where it borders China, Iran, India, and Afghanistan. Its spot acts as a vital key in transport of goods and agriculture.
The global war on terrorism is another aspect that has dented Pakistan’s economic system, and has led to unsatisfactory road safety. Moreover, the inaugural of dual-carriageway highways, motorways and has added to more enfeebled road safety. Pakistan being the country with the most congested and overcrowded roads suffers from traffic jams, noise pollution, air pollution, and accidents. In fact, in 2013 Pakistan was even reported to be the 6th most populated country in the entire world where its population reached 184 million. Moreover, there is a lack of enforcement of traffic laws on speeding, seatbelts, helmets, usage of phones, alcohol and drug impairment, and etc. that further intensify the epidemic.
This is a huge task that we must address as the population of Pakistan immensely grows, we need to make the roads safer for the elderly, the youth, and the entire population. According to United Nations forecasts, Pakistan’s population will exceed 300 million by the year 2050, making it the world’s third-largest populated country. How do we address this crisis? By the collaboration of traffic engineers, professionals, government officials, and police. In addition, proper investment in road safety, injury prevention, and new driving and vehicle inspection policies are critically needed. The objective of this paper is not only to identify the failures in road safety but to also identify the causes of such problems and to propose effective solutions and to recognize the solutions that have been enacted.
Why do road safety issues exist in the first place?
The behavior of drivers and commuters: Road safety is a major emerging epidemic spurring the entire nation of Pakistan. Why does this pandemic exist in the first place? Picture the noise pollution, the honking cars sneaking into the main roads, giant advertising boards on the roadside, children selling things on the road, motorcyclists speeding up not letting anyone enter and pedestrians cross the middle of the congested high traffic road while there is an absence of pedestrian crossings. This situation is quite chaotic and overwhelming because it is full of unsafety for individuals. However unfortunately these types of situations are normal for any roads in Pakistan. Furthermore, according to the dean of civil and petroleum engineering faculty Mir Shabbar Ali at Ned University, there are three major aspects that lead to road accidents, “where 67 percent due to human error,28 percent due to poor roads and infrastructure, and 5 percent due to vehicles”. Research in 2010 revealed that RTAs lead to the death of 332 people while 27,264 suffered from RTIs in less than a year due to aggressive driving, speeding, ignoring lane markings and making wrong turns.
A substantial driver population on the roads of Pakistan is comprised of about 95 % males. Numerous psychological studies have predicted that men have a habit to commit more traffic violations. The peculiar, aggressive, impatient and careless behavior of drivers on congested roads is regarded as the utmost important causative aspect in road traffic accidents in Pakistan. “The driving scene in Lahore, Pakistan is like a real-life video game”. The country brutally struggles with road safety as numerous civilians travel in unsystematic patterns while violating universal traffic rules such as wearing a seat belt or helmet or over speeding and as the vehicles surpass the road capacity.
Aggressive driving is seen on roads from constant honking, tailgating, light flashing, overlooking traffic lights, and disregarding speed limits. In reality, speeding contributes to one-third of road traffic injuries. According to studies conducted by Jacobs and Baguley assessed that 91 percent of road accidents occur because of road user error. Moreover, the Overseas unit of Transport and Road Research Laboratory had started research and observed that high proportions of drivers cross continuous “no overtaking lines” and 52 percent of drivers don’t stop at stop signs even when traffic is near. When road user behavior was observed at pedestrian crossings in Karachi Pakistan under 1 percent of drivers chose to stop while the percent of pedestrians using the crossing was 20 percent. In 2010 in Lahore 27,764 people were wounded while 332 people perished in a year due to irresponsible drivers. The reason for such behavior exhibited by drivers in developing countries such as Pakistan perhaps is due to their lack of knowledge regarding road safety and due to the fact that there is poor enforcement of road traffic rules and regulations.
In Pakistan, there is a road network of 260,000km which are the primary mechanisms of transportation, which transmits 96% of freight traffic,91 percent of all passenger traffic. However, these roads have led to morbidity, disability, and mortality due to institutional errors. The enforcement of traffic laws on mobile phones, seatbelts, helmets, speeding, alcohol, drug impairment is extremely insufficient. Additionally, the traffic police and highway patrol on these roads are insufficiently trained, they are inadequately equipped and usually work in non-mobile conditions, for example, they are posted at intersections and aren’t given proper surveillance cameras or a system to catch the violations that ran off. Therefore, it’s hard for traffic police to catch most of the violators because there is no proper surveillance monitor to catch the violators which may have violated speed limits and there is no way to take pictures of their driving plates.
In the research conducted by, 51 percent of drivers drove the wrong way down a dual carriageway when the police were present the average change in percent was only 4.4. It is vital for Pakistan to integrate institutional changes. Evaluation of road transportation in Pakistan by Hyder et al exposed that there hasn’t been an accepted transport policy at a national level or local level. Moreover, in Pakistan, there is no law about the use of seat belts or road safety policy except stated on specific roads, for example, motorways for the entire country.
Even though guidelines such as NTRC and JICA 2006 and PTPS have been legally drafted, no policy has been accepted and implemented. Although there was an exertion to initiate a road safety department in 2006 which was called the NRSS National Road Safety Secretariat with the help of the World Bank. However, a newspaper described that NRSS which was formed with the aid of the World Bank was abandoned because of the lack of funds and inadequate attention of the government. In the present day, there is no explicit department that analyzes road accident problems, monitors implementation, acquires proper funds and resources. To conclude, road safety has been placed as a small political urgency for decades and as the data above makes it evident that road traffic violations are casual factors to abundant accidents. If drivers exercise nonviolent acts and follow the road traffic rules and regulations much can be obtained for road safety.
Ineffective driver licensing and vehicle inspection system:Traffic
In developing countries such as Pakistan, the complications of irresponsible driver behavior and lack of knowledge are prospective to insufficient driver training and testing. There are authorized driving licensing offices present in every city in Pakistan that host tests but there is no implementation because authorities don’t look after these disciplines. In the recent 2 years, officials are starting to look at licensing offices however the system of a driver licensing consists of social injustice because it is easily abused with bribery and through use of power. “No system to avoid repeat offenders to come on roads here if you are being refused to issue a license in Punjab, you can get it in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province by giving a very minimal amount as a bribe”. It is essentially very easy for civilians to get a driver’s license in Pakistan through bribery that’s the reason why so many accidents happen in the first place. Inexperienced and reckless drivers cause so many lives to be taken. According to the data collected from a recent survey 68 out of 76 people stated that it is easy to get away with breaking traffic regulations and 48 people self-confessed to persuading the traffic police to escape any consequence and penalties.
Furthermore, there is no proper vehicle inspection system that results in old cars and 40-year-old buses on the road. Vehicle fitness certification is needed for public transportation vehicles however only visual inspection happens. Most vehicle insurances from third parties are fake and corrupted. There are numerous vehicles on the road that are a health hazard. There are damaged cars on the road with broken headlights, improper breaks, and vehicular exhaust emissions that result in numerous accidents and injuries. The motor emissions result in unsafe conditions for people and add on to road safety issues. Motor vehicle emissions are a serious health problem because they cause 70 percent of pollution in the air. Poor quality of air and toxic smog impacts people’s lives especially during rush traffic hours when exposed to air pollutants causes headaches, breathing problems, asthma, eyes become red and watery, nose irritation, throat irritation, and cardiac complications. In 2015 according to the World Health Organization WHO 60,000 Pakistanis died from air pollution, which is the highest death toll in the world from air pollution.
Air pollution results in 6.4 million hospital admissions, an estimated 2,500 premature deaths yearly. This has a great toll on Economic expense which is 249-358 million dollars. “We must control Vehicular pollution this includes two-stroke rickshaws and from old vehicles that need proper tuning and inspections”. Moreover, outdated legislation that hasn’t been adapted from 1969 about automobile safety such as Section 39 of the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1965, Section 35 of The Motor Vehicle Rules 1969 add on to more complications and to road safety issues. In 2000 there was an effort by the government to convey revolution by forming the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority. Nonetheless, this organization didn’t come up with safety ideals for vehicles and failed miserably as a whole. It is crucial to implement vehicle maintenance to reduce air pollution All vehicles should be inspected two times a year through a government-run campaign. Pakistan should implement as well as to adapt EURO 2 standards specifications reality Pakistan tried to do this in 2012 however later was postponed to 2014 but never ended up implementing the standards. The execution of these motor emissions is compulsory to diminish accidents and reduce negative effects on human health and to make roads safe.
Engineering and technical issues:
The conditions of roads in Pakistan are improper since there is no notion of regular maintenance. The roads are horrifying to drive on since they are full of potholes and can be described as broken, fatigued, cracking, and deformed thus causing substantial damage to running vehicles. Unsuitable sign installment, non-actuated signals, practically vanishing pavement markings, and nonexistent road safety signs make matters worse. Loaded heavy vehicles destroy the roads and are traffic safety hazards. In fact, it is important to note that approximately 90 percent of commercial vehicles transport more than the allowable normal axle load. “Traffic signals are unnecessarily long…for instance, it is hard to stand at an intersection with no traffic especially in hot temperatures’ ‘.
In fact, there is a lack of proper drainage systems that’s why during inclement weathers such as the rainy season gutters fill up, roads are flooded by water which causes even more concern since the roads become wet, slippery, and hazardous. This unsafe system has caused numerous fatal diseases and has lost innocent lives. Non-functional traffic signals are a severe safety hazard which can be found in Pakistan. For example, in Islamabad there are nearly more than 100 signals nevertheless despite that 53 are wholly purposeful (International the news). The reason for this stems from the lack of proper maintenance and energy issues. In these cases when the signals aren’t working due to unscheduled power outages, they are typically managed by traffic wardens and when they aren’t present traffic moves on its own. Weather conditions create more hurdles and delay traffic by 30 to 45 minutes. In 2010 there was a huge flood in Pakistan that resulted in the death of 1985 people while 2946 people were injured and a shocking 20.2 million people were impacted.
Over 37 million medical consultations were reported within a year of the fold with numerous epidemics such as acute respiratory infections, skin diseases, malaria, only to name a few. That was on a high scale. Now let’s look at how many people die normally when in vehicle-related incidents. On July 30, 2019, people crossed an underpass after heavy rainfall in the port city of Karachi a tragedy ensued where 83 people were killed and 74 were left injured (National Disaster Management Authority). According to the National Disaster Management Authority from July 1 to 25 in 2019 23 ppl were killed in Punjab,36 injured in Sindh 13 people were killed and 10 injured,The main cause of death in the world – traffic accidents.