City cops undergo training on proper data collection

600 officers undergo training at BUET on preparing proper accident report to zero in on reason behin
Mohammad Mohsin Uddin, a sub-inspector at Munshiganj police station, did not know how to fill up the “particular format to gather data systematically” each time he went to the spot after an accident. Instead, he took the next best recourse: he wrote down the accident report in a narrative form, “with whatever information was available on the spot”. Mohsin Uddin is not alone, for the “proper format”, as he put it, was not available to most cops in the city that has one of the highest density in the region so far as road traffic is concerned.

But now, after a 10-day training at the Accident Research Institute (ARI) of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, along with 600 other police officers, SI Mohsin is a confident man. He said he can effectively report accident in a formatted way and zero in on precise factors that led to an accident.
ARI director Dr Shamsul Haq said proper paperwork and analysis of accidents would help reduce the number of mishaps, and provide a basic framework to develop a road safety system. “The idea of putting an end to all accidents is not realistic,” Haq said, “but at least attempts and efforts should be taken to reduce them.”
As part of the training, the police officers completed the standard accident report form with more than 90 points under five sections. These sections, according to experts, can categorise almost every factor behind an accident — the road structure, collision and involvement of vehicles in each crash, among others.

Unlike their Western counterparts, the Bangladeshi police till date do not have modern technological assistance, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) or dedicated satellite for constant monitoring of traffic. They also lack surveillance teams with high-speed vehicles, helicopters and adequate skilled manpower.
According to sources, the ARI, the country’s only specialised research institute on accidents, relies on spot data collection done by police officers for its preliminary data on accident. The data were collected over the last seven years gradually, sources said, adding that the institute could not go the full distance due to inadequate training.

Though regulation 254-b of Bangladesh Police says data should be collected from the spot after each accident in standard “accident report form”, most police officers did not follow it due to lack of know-how.
The standard “accident report form” was prepared by the UK-based Transport Research Laboratory.
In 1995, the Bangladesh police, with help from the Roads and Highway department and the World Bank, made it mandatory for cops to prepare the standard report while reporting accidents.

But the format on which the ARI training workshop was conducted was a modification of the original version, done by Kazi Zakaria Islam, chief data analyst and an associate professor at ARI.

In the modified form, the ARI added three new sections for coordinating the exact spot of accident, using special software based on 92 points a police officer has to fill up on the spot while reporting an accident.
Zakaria, a trainer on accident reporting at Sarda Police Academy from 1995, joined ARI in 2003. He said the training programme was restarted this June at ARI under BUET’s authority.

“ARI researchers persuaded the authorities to resume the training for our sake,” Zakaria told The Independent. “Our only source of information is the accident report form, and for the last few years the standard of it has deteriorated.”

Former ARI director Prof Dr Mazharul Haque had recently said proper road infrastructure could cut down road accidents by a third, and active research on data is required for that.

Stressing the need for technology, Zakaria said while European countries plan to install by 2013 a ‘communication box’ in every vehicle to emit a constant ‘heartbeat’ to reveal their location, speed and direction of travel, the police in Bangladesh do not yet have GPS aid to collect data on mishap.