Motor vehicle accidents have claimed at least eight people every month in the last eight months.
This is going by records maintained by the Traffic Division of the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP). As of August 31, the RBP recorded 978 accidents across the country injuring 541 people and killing 65.
In Thimphu alone, the traffic division registered 326 motor vehicle accidents, 132 injuries and three deaths, as of August 31. Chukha recorded the second highest number of accidents at 230 where 62 people were injured and 13 killed.
In 2018, there were 1,360 motor vehicles accidents, according to the Annual Info-Comm and Transport Statistical Bulletin. The accidents claimed 135 lives and injured 807 people.
An analysis of motor vehicle records from 2005 to 2018 show accidents numbers were on the rise every year, especially from 2015. The highest, however, was recorded in 2009 when 1,436 accidents were reported. More fatalities from accidents were recorded in 2018.
Superintendent of Police, Traffic Division, Lt. Col. Namgay, said negligence of drivers in following traffic rules, careless driving, over speeding, and drink driving are some of the major causes of vehicle accident in the country. Weather conditions, he said, also contributed to the accidents.
The SP said the high vehicle density in Thimphu and increasing traffic congestion is making the city vulnerable to accidents. The ongoing road widening work from Yangchenphug to Simtokha has increased traffic congestion as vehicles are routed to the expressway. “Most of the drivers follow the bypass of Babesa to the main town worsening the traffic congestion. Once the road widening work is complete, congestion will be reduced,” the SP said.
According to Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) annual report, 2018, vehicle number is increasing at seven percent every year. They reported the death rate at 12 people for every 10,000 vehicles.
According to RSTA, Thimphu has 54, 661 vehicles as of August 31 this year.
Meanwhile, RBP is working to reduce traffic congestion in Thimphu and overcome the vehicle accident problem. Lt. Col. Namgay said that they have requested the thromde to revisit the zebra crossing around Changjiji area and disallowed heavy vehicles during the rush hours on the main roads from 8am to 9:15am in the morning and 5pm to 6:30pm in the evening.
Police also pointed out the lack of footpath or continuity of it thereby risking the safety of pedestrians. With increase in the volume of traffic, RBP, besides enhancing advocacy programmes has increased the highway checking.