Traffic accidents killed 116 people on the 365-mile highway connecting Yangon to Mandalay in 2017, highway traffic police announced earlier this week. The deaths were among 555 total accidents on the highway last year, which also caused 863 injuries.
These figures mark a decline from the level of damage caused by the so-called “death highway” in 2016, when traffic police recorded 777 accidents, 170 deaths, and 1,304 injuries.
According to traffic police, speeding is the main cause of accidents on the Yangon-Mandalay Expressway, but poor design and weak safety regulations have also been blamed for the highway’s deadly reputation.
Passengers and drivers have only been required to wear seatbelts on the highway since June 2017.
The highway was officially opened in 2010 and is now used by around 20,000 vehicles per day. More than 500 people have died from accidents on the highway in the last four years.
In 2016, the Ministry of Health and the WHO launched a project to identify the highway’s main safety hazards, and in 2017, the Asian Development Bank offered a US$100 million loan to the Ministry of Construction to upgrade the highway.
However, the government has not yet approved the upgrade project.