Road Toll on ‘Death Highway’ Drops in 2018

By Moe Moe 3 January 2019

NAYPYITAW—A total of 103 people were killed on the Yangon-Mandalay Highway last year, Highway Police said.

Speeding remained the main cause of road accidents. Along with the 103 people killed, 877 were injured in 473 traffic accidents last year.

Tire blowouts were another major cause of fatal road accidents, police said.

The numbers of accidents and casualties declined from 2017, when 116 people died and 863 were injured in 555 road accidents. In 2016, 774 road accidents killed 170 people and injured 1,304.

The majority of accidents last year involved private vehicles, most of them light trucks, police said.

Since June 1 last year, drivers and passengers of private vehicles and express buses have been required to wear seatbelts while driving on the highway.

Highway Police impose a fine of 50,000 kyats on drivers caught speeding, while people who fail to wear seatbelts are fined 30,000 kyats. Last year, police pulled over more than 1,000 vehicles due to occupants’ failure to wear seatbelts.

The number of road accidents has declined since police began enforcing speed limits and seatbelt laws, said lawmaker U Than Soe Aung, a member of the Lower House Transportation, Communication and Construction Committee.

“It is called a highway, but it’s still an ordinary road. There is a need to improve the road signage and surface,” he told The Irrawaddy.

Every day, more than 20,000 vehicles use the some 400-mile highway, which sees around seven road accidents a day, according to police.

“Road signs have improved lately,” said road user U Win Zaw Oo. “And the presence of police patrols make me feel safe should I have a flat tire while driving late at night. But there is a need to brighten the yellow lines [separating lanes] for late-night driving.”

The highway, which connects commercial hub Yangon with the country’s administrative capital Naypyitaw and second-largest city Mandalay, came into service in 2009. It has been dubbed the “death highway” by local road users due to the high number of accidents.