Nepal sees a staggering spike in road crashes

In the last five years, Nepal’s highways have borne witness to over 120,000 incidents that have rendered over 12,000 dead.

Anushka Nepal

  • Read Time 3 min.

Kathmandu: The number of road crashes Nepal has witnessed in the past few years is enormous. A total of 121,298 crashes have occurred in Nepal’s highways in the past five years, starting from the fiscal year 2073/74 till date–12,797 people have lost their lives, according to police. Among them, 11612 were adults whereas 1189 were children.

Nepal faces 60 crashes daily, on average, of which eight lose their life while 69 people get severely injured.

The traffic bureau has identified nine major reasons that cause road crashes. The most catalyzing factor, according to the bureau, is the carelessness of the drivers and pedestrians.

“People tend to be in such haste on the streets that following traffic rules would be the last thing on their mind,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Santosh Roka. “Speeding beyond the limit, drunk driving, and flouting traffic rules— these are major reasons that have led to many accidents and loss of lives.”

Bhagwati Sedain, a road safety expert, said Nepal’s road and urban planning is misguided. “Pedestrians should be the main priority when it comes to road users, but now the situation has become the exact opposite,” she said, adding that the country’s streets lack proper lights, have poorly developed roads and no proper sidewalks, and vehicles are unsafe.

Moreover, the streets in urban areas are either severely damaged or constructed with faulty designs, she said. Her other main concern is the unsafe vehicles that are driven all over Nepal. “The vehicles available here are vulnerable to any level of crashes, which in turn is one of the reasons why many people lose their lives.”

On the other hand, Roka mentioned that the carelessness of pedestrians has also led to several incidents and possibly deaths. “Although provided with overhead bridges, zebra crossings and sidewalks, pedestrians choose to cross in a haphazard manner even in fast running streets, which leads to a lot of hit and run cases,” he said. 

What can be done?

Firstly, it is very important to follow the Global plan for road safety declared by the United Nations, said Sedain. “It will take time to mitigate these incidents but we need to start somewhere,” she said.

Although, according to the report, Nepal has made some progress on implementing these global pillars, the increasing number of accidents say otherwise. 

According to Sedain, there is a lot that needs to be improved when it comes to the implementation of these pillars. 

Sedain believes that it is very important to form a committee that will be fully invested in working only on road safety, one that will fully work on the implementation of all the global pillars for road safety.

Firstly, roads must be built much safer with timely inspection, so that it is safer for all the road users. Secondly, Nepal should have vehicles that can sustain the crash so that the user will not be severely harmed. Finally, in the case of any road crashes, the response must be quick so that the injured will not have to lose their life due to lack of proper care. 

For the last part, all the parties that are involved in the rescue must be coordinated, rather than work individually, she added. 

Sedain believes that it is very important to form a committee that will be fully invested in working only on road safety, one that will fully work on the implementation of all the global pillars for road safety.

Roka maintained that the traffic bureau has been doing its part when it comes to mitigating road crashes. Their inspection all around Nepal for drunk driving and traffic rules is one of the many ways they have been implementing on making the road and its users much safer, Roka said.

“These checking has made people more careful when it comes to drunk driving, speeding, and undocumented drivers,” he said.

But it is evident that these solutions are not enough. Despite these efforts, still, the road incidents are increasing rapidly, for which further initiation is required, Sedain said.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the total number of fatalities caused by road crashes. We regret the error. )