Quantifying highway safety hazards in Bangladesh
Traffic crashes in Bangladesh result in an unacceptably high socio-economic toll that has been growing due to inadequate attention and under-investment in safety. A combination of increasing volume of vehicles on the road, complexity of heterogeneous mix of vehicles, poor road infrastructure, unsafe vehicles, risk taking behaviour of general public, poor enforcement of traffic laws and lack of proper regulation has further aggravated the situation. More than 20,000 deaths from road traffic crashes are estimated to occur in Bangladesh, while 4,000 deaths are officially reported. Nearly 70 percent of road traffic fatalities occurred in rural areas including rural sections of national highways. The majority of the serious crashes is concentrated on a small proportion of high risk roads (e.g. 40% of the crashes took place on 2% of road network) and in many instances are attributable to adverse road environmental conditions. Roadside linear developments pose a serious problem. The safety problems especially for VRUs greatly are compounded by its serious incompatibility of the existing roadway conditions. Concerningly the majority of the highway sections are rated as 2-star or less (out of possible 5-star) as revealed from the results of the iRAP risk assessment of around 1400 kilometers of highways. Significant safety gains can be achieved by implementing affordable road infrastructure measures targeting priority crash types on such high-risk highway sections. This paper has been based on the learning from the ongoing ADB assisted iRAP road infrastructure assessment project and aims to present some of the findings of quantifying hazards associated with roadway design features that are influencing the likelihood of crashes and casualties. It identifies a range of affordable cost-effective road engineering countermeasures within the principles of the Safe System Approach towards achieving the goals and targets of the national road safety strategy for the Decade.