Pakistan has many systemic problems that cannot be fixed through any single solution, and the lack of road safety and the country’s accident-prone traffic is no different. 16 people lost their lives close to Kalam after the truck they were on fell into the Swat River on Monday. Local residents blame the government for not making repairs to the roads, and the government in turn, claims that over speeding was the main cause. In all likelihood it was a mixture of both. This is not the first traffic accident that led to the death of so many. Nor is it one with the highest death toll. Pakistan has many such accidents that wipe out entire families in the blink of an eye. A tractor-coach collision in Sukkur in April left 42 dead. Less than a week ago, a truck laden with logs crashed into a passenger van on the Lahore-Multan highway, killing 14 people.

Pakistan has one of the world’s worst traffic records, with a deadly mix of a lack of respect for traffic rules and indifference towards road safety combining to cause such horrific accidents on a regular basis. The lack of respect for traffic laws extends from not following simple rules such as wearing seat belts, overloading vehicles well above their capacity, ignoring speed limits and not caring for vehicle maintenance. The drivers of buses and trucks are usually too underpaid, over-worked and under-qualified to have the fate of the travelers in their hands. Round trips around the country without any rest makes them even more careless and likelier to switch off when they need all their wits about them.

The government, on its part could be doing more to prevent these collisions as well. Very few roads in Pakistan are well-cared for and repaired on a regular basis, and most of these are located in or around major cities. Additionally, it is the state’s responsibility to ensure that drivers that are not fit to take the roads are kept off them for the good of others, and those that violate traffic rules are punished to deter others from making the same mistakes. However, in this country, there is no accountability on the roads. The lack of implementation of the law means that drivers are essentially engaged in a perpetual free-for-all and the casualties are innocent travelers that had nothing to do in making the decisions that led to the accident.