iRAP and road infrastructure safety assessment in Bangladesh
Road safety is an issue in Bangladesh that poses considerable challenges to road engineering professionals. This is borne by the fact that as many as 55 people are reportedly killed in road crashes each day and vulnerable road users (including pedestrians, motorcyclists and unsafe and informal public transport users) account for a large proportion, more than 80 percent, of road traffic fatalities. The International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) Bangladesh Pilot Project provided the first ever comprehensive road infrastructure risk assessment of two of Bangladesh?s busiest national highways: the Dhaka-Sylhet Highway (N2) and the Joydebpur-Mymensingh Highway (N3). The highways are mostly rated 2-stars or less (out of possible 5-stars) for vehicle occupants, pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists indicating a relatively high level of risk of deaths and injuries. As an extension of the pilot project, an undergraduate research study on iRAP infrastructure assessment of a high risk corridor of a section of Dhaka-Aricha highway (section of N5 highway) was carried out. The highway fits a classic linear settlement model as it passes through several built-up areas where there is significant roadside development, high side friction and a large number of pedestrian movements. Road infrastructure attributes were collected through extensive field inspection and iRAP risk assessment tools were applied to determine star ratings for various road user categories. The majority of the highway section (27 km) under study was 2-stars or less for pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists. This paper introduces the road safety problem and the iRAP programme in Bangladesh. It discusses some promising findings and experiences of the road infrastructure assessment and highlights a range of affordable cost-effective countermeasures for safety improvements. In particular, the study serves to demonstrate the iRAP methodology as an important tool to be used by the new generation of road engineers who can play significant role in achieving the goals of the Decade of Action for Road Safety.