Road accidents in Yangon Region soared by 38 per cent last year over 2012 due to mainly reckless driving and traffic-clogged streets, say police.

There were 2,979 road accidents reported in Yangon Region during 2013, 800 more than the previous year, Police Captain Zaw Myo Tun of the traffic squad told Mizzima on January 5.

Police said 506 people died in road accidents in the region last year, 31 more than 2012, when there were 475 fatalities, a 6.5 per cent increase. More than 4,400 people were injured.

“These accidents happened because of speeding and reckless driving, especially at night,” said Captain Zaw Myo Tun, adding that of the 2,143 accidents reported in the Yangon municipal area, 1,214 occurred after dark. “Many accidents are due to a lack of streetlights,” he said.

Accidents in the municipal area – which at 599 square kilometres is about half the size of Yangon Region – claimed 325 lives and left 2,946 people injured.

Reports say that Myanmar saw an influx of some 200,000 imported vehicles last year. Most of the imported cars are in Yangon, where the number of vehicles has ballooned from about 100,000 to over 300,000.

“The city is becoming crowded with traffic,” said a Yangon fire truck driver with 30 years’ experience who did not want his name used because he did not have permission to speak to the media.

“The new road infrastructure is still not enough. Accidents mainly take place because of recklessness, pedestrians who carelessly cross the roads and road racing.”

The lack of streetlights might be a reason why most accidents were reported outside the downtown area, in such townships as Hlaing Tharyar, Mingalardon, Insein, Mayangone and Hlaing.