Bhutanese roads are increasingly becoming unsafe. This is against the backdrop of growing vehicle number, particularly in bigger towns like Thimphu and Phuentsholing. It is deeply worrying to learn that hundreds of drivers take to the roads without licence. There is so an urgent need to call to attention the dangers of such unhealthy practices on our roads.
What we must acknowledge is that Bhutanese aren’t good drivers. And what about our road sense? There isn’t even a word to describe how crazy we can be in trying to be sensible and creative. It seems like we have become experts at laying bumpers and zebra crossing wherever we feel like. And the endless digging that goes on on the roads, posing risks to both drivers and pedestrians.
Going by the available figures, between July 2015 and June 2016, 86 people died due to motor vehicle accidents. According to RSTA records for the month of January, close to 500 road users were found driving without a licence and other necessary vehicle documents. At the same time, 107 road users were fined for drink driving. Speeding, alcohol, and not wearing of seatbelts are some of the leading causes of accidents and road deaths in the country. What this clearly indicates is that we lack road discipline.
There is a need to employ more sensible and practical measures to improve road-user behaviour in the country. It is not enough that we have laws, rules and regulations. Safety measures and drink driving laws should be implemented more seriously. Wearing seatbelt must be made mandatory. Inconsiderate motorists who resolutely remain oblivious of the dangers to themselves and others due to their carelessness should be penalised. If penalty systems must be made more stringent, so be it.
Routine tests of licence holders could also help. Increased and improved legislation and enforcement seems to be the only workable options yet to make our roads safe.