ISLAMABAD - The last year proved to be more dangerous for commuters on National Highways and Motorways as the number of accidents reported in 2019 was double than the previous year’s i.e. 2017 and 2018.

According to details shared by the Ministry of Communications in upper house of the Parliament, a total of 958 road accidents were reported in 2019, including 349 fatal and 609 non-fatal accidents.

The data shared by the federal minister in the Senate of Pakistan shows one hundred per cent increase in accidents on highways and motorways as the total accidents reported in 2017 was 428, including 236 fatal and 192 non-fatal while the total number of accidents in 2018 was reported 478, including 243 fatal 235 non-fatal.

When contacted to know the reasons behind such a huge increase in accidents, the spokesperson for National Highway and Motorway Police Muhammad Ali Khokar referred towards a Director of the Ministry of Communications Abdul Sabooh. He informed that he is the focal person of all four departments dealing with the National Highways and Motorways.

However, Mr. Sabooh declined to comment and said he was not a focal person and he didn’t have any idea about the issue.   

Road crashes are caused due to multiple factors, including poor road user behavior, human errors, vehicular malfunctioning, adverse weather conditions and deficient highway infrastructure.

While responding to a question asked by Senator Rana Mahmood Ul Hassan regarding steps taken or being taken by the government to control aforementioned accidents, Federal Minister for Communications Murad Saeed informed that every road crash is reported on Micro Accidents Analysis Proforma (MAAP) which contains minute details of the occurrence that help us to analyze trends and causes for devising appropriate preventive and remedial measures.

He informed further that NHA is taking two types of steps i.e. soft and hard to reduce the number of accidents on NH&Ms. The soft remedies includes Application of Pavement Marking, Installing of reflector zed aluminium/plastic studs, installation of sign boards, chevrons, angle reflectors, installation of galvanised wire mesh fence, provision of flexible delineators and improvement of road skid resistance.

“On the other side, the hard road safety solution is remediation of black spots though geometric improvements of targeted road section and is often very costly. Since 2015-16, NHA has planned to execute these geometric improvement works during next 3-4 years in a phased program for which about PKR 1.5 Billion will be reserved under annual maintenance plan”, he has informed.

He stated further that in addition to this during last 02 years, NHA has taken some other measures for highway safety improvement, including provision of steel overhead pedestrian bridges at 32 prioritised locations on NHA network, application of the optimum and uniform design of U-turns with medians referred as closed U-Turns to provide safe and efficient manoeuvring.

The federal minister has also listed several other steps that are being taken by NHA, motorway police and other departments to reduce the number of accidents on national highways and motorways.

However, sources inside motorway police and NHA stated that the increase in road accidents on National Highways and Motorways is alarming and it should be investigated thoroughly to avoid them in future.