… by 2030 in line with ‘Decade of Action on Road Safety 2021-2030’

YK Poudel 

Bhutan witnessed an increase in the number of road crash fatalities last year. According to Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority’s (BCTA) record, the current road crash fatality rate is 6.3 persons per 10,000 vehicles or 630 fatalities.

Statistical reports the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (MoIT) (former MoIC) maintained show that the country recorded 780 motor vehicle (MV) accidents last year. There were 745 MV accidents in 2021 and 810 accidents in 2020.

According to an official from BCTA, the focused area of intervention for the fiscal year 2023 shall be improving road safety to reduce the number of deaths and injuries, and awareness of three leading causes of road crash fatalities: drunk driving, unlicensed driving and over speeding.

Human error such as drunk driving, speeding and unlicensed driving, according to the authority, remains the leading cause of motor vehicle accidents.  Vehicles’ mechanical failures and road conditions are the other causes of road accidents.

BCTA in coordination with traffic police aims to reduce fatal and non-fatal vehicle crashes by 50 percent by 2030 in line with the ‘Decade of Action on Road Safety 2021-2030.’

Officiating Superintendent of Police (SP), Traffic Division, Chencho Gyeltshen said that the division aims to achieve a ‘vision zero’ strategy to eliminate road fatalities by 2030.

“While motor vehicle accidents are unpredictable, most road crashes are preventable with effective advocacies,” the SP said.

Officiating BCTA Director, Sithar Dorji, said that comprehensive advocacy and awareness programmes would be rolled out to bring in a change in the road transport sector.

“Based on the past five years’ annual report analysis, focused awareness can bring behavioural change at an individual level. Audio-visual advocacy through social media is one of the means to a focused awareness programme the division will implement in the fiscal year,” he said.

To increase the enforcement of safety regulations, BCTA purchased various safety equipment to carry out driver drug testing, speed-detection device, alcohol breath analyzers and e-RaLIS access to road inspectors for highway inspections.

While the financial year 2021-22 saw a decrease in road crash fatalities, there was an increase in road crashes and road crash injuries.

As per the authority’s record of December 31, 2022, there are 125,534 motor vehicles in the country.