Close to 9,000 road accidents are reported to the police every year since 2011, killing over 4,500 people on average, according to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics. Every few days, one comes across a news item: a bus fell into a ravine or swerved and crashed, fell off a cliff on a hairpin bend. The crash between a bus and an oil tanker near Karachi is one of the most recent and the worst, with 62 dead. There needs to be a discussion on road safety and better enforcement of traffic rules. How many motorcyclists have you seen today that did not have a helmet on? Have you ever crossed a red light? Do you over speed?

The bus that caught fire after impact was over loaded with more than 60 passengers while reports suggest that the oil tanker was coming in the wrong direction. While roads are poor, and vehicles are badly maintained, reckless driving has also become a national pastime. Citizens have to start becoming more responsible. While fighting with an armed religious fanatic, or speaking out against a militant maulana is not something everyone has the bravery or stomach for, these traffic accidents are avoidable. The number of people dead, all burnt alive, was an avoidable figure.

Our tragedies continue to be symptoms of greater problems. Roads are the only means of transport available for cargo, where in other countries air freight and railways are viable options. Cargo is moved by enormous trucks that damage roads, cause traffic jams and devastating accidents in the case of human error.

Last November, 58 people died in a bus crash in Karachi due to poor condition of roads. The government should realise that it is not just Lahore and Islamabad that need highways and metro buses; the need of the nation is far greater. While some key cities and areas get the unnecessary attention of misguided urban planning, most of the country doesn’t even have paved roads.