Life & Health
As authorities struggle to make motorcycle riders follow traffic rules, fatal crashes - that mostly claim the lives of young people - are increasing every year.
Excessive speed, drink-driving and non-compliance of laws mandating helmet wear for both the driver and the pillion rider are factors contributing to the large number of road accidents in the country, according to road safety experts.
Consequently, thousands of motorcycle riders meet with accidents which claim hundreds of lives in Nepal every year.
20,000 motorcycle accidents last year!
According to the Nepal Police data, a total of 10,869 accidents involving motorcycles were recorded across the country in the fiscal year 2019-20. The numbers increased by over 60 per cent to 17,087 in 2020-21. As more two-wheelers hit the roads, the number of motorcycle accidents rose further to 19,974 in 2021-22.
With Kathmandu accounting for almost 40 percent of the total two-wheelers registered in the country, the capital city records the most number of accidents.
There were 7,142 accidents involving motorcyclists in the Valley in 2019-20. A total of 81 bikers died in the accidents, according to the traffic police.
The number of accidents increased to 7,945 in 2020-21. Although the number of deaths stood at 75 that year, the following year was gloomier. The year 2021-22 saw the number of motorcycle accidents climb to 8,364, with 117 deaths.
Experts say the road accidents are a result of poor enforcement of road safety rules. But SSP Rajendra Prasad Bhatta, spokesperson at the Kathmandu Valley Traffic Police Office, disagrees.
“Most of the accidents occur due to the bikers' faults," Bhatta told NepalMinute. "Over-speeding and not adhering to lane discipline are factors causing the rise in road accidents, and deaths.”
The condition of the roads is another contributing factor, both in the capital city and elsewhere across the country.
“Following the traffic rules such as speed limits, and properly wearing a helmet would help reduce road accidents significantly,” SSP Bhatta said.
A recent tragedy
But the rules are often violated as road-users witness on the Valley roads every day. That often results in fatal crashes – as it befell Ashish Lama, 31.
Here’s what happened as per information provided by the police and relatives: On the night of July 30, Lama was returning home in Pharping from Bouddha, where he owned and operated a hotel.
He was riding a Pulsar 220cc motorcycle along the Koteshwor-Satdobato section of the Ring Road. At around quarter to 9pm, he was hit by a Bolero car coming from the opposite direction, at Gwarko.
Lama was thrown about 10 metres from his bike in the head-on collision. He was rushed to the B&B Hospital, which was about 200 metres from the accident site, police said. The doctors at the hospital pronounced him dead around 11pm. He died of excessive bleeding and massive head injuries.
Lama was not drink-driving, and he was wearing a helmet too. But he was driving at a “very high speed on the wrong lane”, according to Angur GC, spokesperson at the District Police Office. "Lama was completely at fault.”
The Bolero driver remains at large. "We are hunting for the hit-and-run driver,” he said.
It’s just one example of how motorcycle riders are killed in fatal crashes in the Valley, where not a single day passes without deadly motorcycle crashes, traffic police say.
Those who survive such crashes struggle to recover from serious injuries, with many ending up with disabilities for life, they say.
According to police data, road accidents claim more than eight lives daily in the country.
The last fiscal year saw 39,000 road accidents, leaving 2,883 deaths. More than 32,000 others were injured, over 7,000 of them seriously.
Nearly 80 percent of the nearly 3.5 million vehicles registered in the country are two-wheelers. Out of that, traffic police say, around 40 per cent of bikers run or race recklessly on the Valley roads.