Traffic Accidents Claim Nine Lives Every Week in Irrawaddy Division

By Salai Thant Zin 12 January 2017

PATHEIN, Irrawaddy Division — Five traffic accidents occurred every day and claimed nine lives every week in Irrawaddy Division in 2016, according to statistics just released.

“About 70 percent of those traffic accidents were caused by motorcycles,” said U Win Tin, the director of Irrawaddy Division’s Road Transport Directorate. “According to statistics for 2016, five traffic accidents occurred every day and claimed more than one life per day.”

In 2016, a total of 2,075 traffic accidents occurred, injuring 3,642 people and killing 462 people. Compared to the 2015 numbers, traffic accidents increased by 344, deaths rose by 97, and injuries caused by accidents rose by 344 on the year, according to data from the Road Transport Directorate.

“The leading cause of death in traffic accidents was when motorcycle riders failed to wear helmets. Another cause was speeding and careless driving. Sometimes, three or four people rode on one motorcycle, and all of them were killed when they had an accident,” U Win Tin said.

Pathein Township saw the largest number of traffic accidents in the division, followed by Maubin Township, but Maubin also recorded a higher death toll.

“The number of traffic accidents was highest when courses started at the University of Distance Education,” said Ko Thein Swe, a resident of Maubin. “That’s when students from various towns and villages in the district traveled to Maubin, bringing hundreds of motorcycles with them. Traffic accidents were common because some students got drunk and rode motorcycles without understanding the nature of the roads and streets in Maubin. The authorities took steps to educate the students, and sometimes they were punished, but they did not seem to care.”

To reduce the number of traffic accidents in the division, the traffic police and Road Transport Directorate plan to organize educational lectures. Teams of personnel from the police and transport directorate will explain traffic rules at basic education high schools, universities, and in rural locations. Measures will also be taken to educate and inspect bus drivers and conductors, the directorate said.

According to statistics for 2016, over 17,500 cars and 470,000 motorcycles were registered with the directorate. Since 2012, the total number of vehicles has increased by 360,000. And there is only one traffic police officer in the region for every 3,795 vehicles, which means the police have their work cut out for them.

Translated from Burmese by Myint Win Thein