Khaleej Times

It’s never too late to learn from road tragedies


The road inferno in Pakistan on Sunday could have been prevented. In fact, every death and injury on our roads can be avoided if people curb the urge for speed — and greed — in this case. The longer motorists and road users rush past the rules, such tragedies will happen. We are numb with shock after an oil-laden lorry in south Pakistan went up in flames. It will be dark Eid for the families of the victims. Our hearts go out to them. Reports said 150 people died, and several suffered serious injuries. The toll is expected to rise. It started with a speeding truck in Bahawalpur district in the country that, reports said, had a blowout and overturned. It was speeding. Eyewitness­es confirm the version. Tragedy unfolded from then on. It’s easy to blame bad roads — that’s the job of politician­s. The bigger problem, however, is reckless driving. The driver of the ill-fated lorry did not realise he was carrying inflammabl­e material. Worse, the oil spilt on the road, and people from surroundin­g areas rushed to collect the 40,000 litres of fuel gushing out of the tanker.

Despite warnings from police officials, they continued to have their fill. Buckets, utensils, anything they could lay their hands on were used to collect the expensive fuel. Then, someone lit a match. The rest was a blaze that spared no one in the vicinity before darkness enveloped the world as the news flared on TV, mobile and computer screens. According to the World Health Organizati­on, the number of ‘traffic deaths’ has ‘plateaued’ at 1.25 million a year — no consolatio­n when tragedies like these continue to happen. Road accidents are preventabl­e, and it’s not just limited to the state of our roads; it’s about road-worthiness of vehicles that ply on them, and how people use them. In this case, the tyre of the lorry might have run its course. We are not sure, but the least we could do is surmise to make sense of what happened. Awareness leads to prevention in any scenario in life. Which is why it’s important to learn from this tragedy. Let’s quell the need for speed. Tears are all that will be left for those who survive.

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