Vulnerable Road Users (VRUS) Safety in Bangladesh

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Mazharul Hoque
Mohammad Faizus Salehin

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. According to World health Organization (WHO), more than 20,000 deaths from road traffic crashes are estimated to occur annually in Bangladesh, while around 4000 deaths are officially reported. Nearly 70 percent of road traffic fatalities are attributed to Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) - pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and users of informal and unsafe motorized and non-motorized transport. It has been observed from the studies that around 50 percent road deaths are pedestrians alone and in Dhaka city, they represented around 75 percent. Pedestrian-vehicle conflicts are therefore clearly the greatest problem with significant involvement of trucks and busses. Heavy vehicles, especially buses and trucks, are mostly involved in fatal accidents. They are particularly prevalent in crashes involving VRUs. The road environment factors are particularly prevalent and unregulated private/business access to inter-urban highways leads to endless linear settlements resulting in high risks for pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. Several road environmental and behavioral factors force the VRUs to be exposed in high risk situation which eventually results in high number of road deaths. Highways are particularly hazardous for VRUs - rated as 2-stars or less (out of possible 5-stars) for vehicle occupants, pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists as revealed from the results of the iRAP assessment of two busiest highways in Bangladesh. This paper argues that road infrastructure safety improvement is the priority issue for protecting the VRUs’ in Bangladesh and most importantly, for achieving the goals and targets of the Decade of Action. The paper emphasizes on the systematic implementation of a range of affordable cost-effective countermeasures related to road infrastructure within the principles of the Safe System Approach for protecting the legitimacy and safety of VRUs.

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