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Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Crackdown on Traffic Offenders



When i first came to hear of the call by our one year old PM that the lesen of drivers involved in accidents would be suspended and detained at the polis district station concerned for 2 weeks regardless of whether the drivers were in the right or wrong; i was amazed that such an idea would emanate from our one year old PM. The NST called this the toughest proposal yet to be announced by the PM to deal with deaths due to road accidents. The NST mentioned that the lesen would be suspended regardless of who is at fault! The STAR when reporting on the proposal appears to say that only the lesen of "Motorists who cause road accidents will have their driving licences seized and held for two weeks by traffic police in the district where the accident happened." i had therefore refrained from making any comments, for the one which came straight to minda was what a stupid idea aka aksi. So a couple of days went by. The NST reported "mixed reactions to the proposals. Some shot down the idea, while the usual mindaless ones were quick to jump on the bandwagon and said what a great idea it is and give their undivided support. eg The executive director of Program Motorcamp Malaysia, supported the move wholeheartedly, saying he hoped the proposal would take effect ASAP. The JPJ Director-General Datuk Emran Kader, was also among those supporting the proposal. i waited for wiser counsel.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye struck a chord when he showed concern over possible negative consequences. The Tan Sri said ::
"For the person in the right, it could be unfair." "It could also discourage people from lodging a police report if their licences are to be taken by the police."

And he hit it closed to the heart when he quoted this example ::
If an accident were to happen in Taiping, the licence would have to be surrendered in Taiping, regardless of where the motorist lived. [this was according to the proposal of the year old PM]

See, i was once booked for shooting the lights while in KL, imagine having to leave my lesen there for two weeks and having to travel back to collect it a fortnight later. But then again, just thinking of it might have stopped me in my tracks and made me not shoot the lights the next time. But why did i shoot the lights on that occasion, there was this guy tailgating me. He probably got away without a ticket.
The DAP Sec-Gen echoed what the Tan Sri said, when he said ::
"Retaining the driving licences of those who are wrong is acceptable but not the innocent party, as the law should punish the guilty and not the innocent."

Of course the statistik regarding total traffic accidents and fatal accidents are alarming, but to suspend all drivers involved in accidents sound very drastic an action. Last year, 868 accidents and 17 deaths were recorded daily, while the figures up to September this year had hardly changed, with 866 accidents and 17 deaths daily. The main cause of accidents, i believe is the horrible, arrogant, aggressive, terrible, inconsiderate, kiasu attitudes of some of the drivers on our highways and byways and expressways. And attitudes are mighty difficult to change, unless someone has a magically formula to whoosh away our bad road habits and attitudes of our drivers and bright back good driving and road courtesy. Changing their attitudes only during the festival rushes is not good enough, it has to be the all the time.
Of course today, we find some common sense prevailing and that stup_d proposal appears to have been forgotten. So what do we find in its place. Oh yes, the 4-pronged attack plan to reduce road accidents ::
  • POLICE setting up watchtowers at regular intervals along major roads and highways to enable them to make their presence felt and for surveillance;
  • ISSUING summonses and implementing the Kejara demerit system strictly;
  • REVOKING the permits of commercial vehicles whose drivers are involved in accidents and committing offences; and
  • HAVING police patrol cars travel at the speed limit and summoning vehicles which overtake them.

The Kejara demerit system has actually been around for some time now, obviously it has not been implemented or enforced strictly. The system probably ended up as an avenue for some kopi drinking. The enforcers need to be looked at as to why the system is not working. Building watchtowers will probably produce some immediate effects for a period of time but it won't come cheap and will be a drain on the manpower of the JPJ, the polis and the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board. Imagine stationing these personnel from each of the department at watchtowers every 20km of our highways and federal roads! Wouldn't just cardboard cutouts of the polis or JPJ officers do. i believe that this was tried out and proved cost effective in Britain and Australia or was it somewhere else. By the way, Britain, with its 5.6 annual road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants [2000 figures] makes it one of the nations with low road accident fatalities. In Poland, similar use was made of dummy police cars made of wood and cardboard.
The 4th prong of having polis patrol cars travelling at the speed limit and leading other cars on our highways and federal roads sounds too impractical. How many of such patrol cars can be around at any one time? And if one should go off chasing after a private car which has gone above the speed limit will it end up with all the following cars playing follow the leader. Many Malaysian drivers are known to take advantage of the speeding ambulans and cars of the speeding VIPs or Royalties and follow in their wake.
Our Transport MINIster has advised motorcyclists to take the bus home for balik kampung during the festive season, he says that a university study on road safety showed that taking the bus during the balik kampung period was 30 times safer than riding motorcycles. Travelling in cars was 17 times safer and trains 325 times safer! But according to a PIAM report, one in four buses are likely to get involved in an accident each year. Taxi on the other hand has a 12.2% accident rate. So take your pick.
i for one will be looking forward to seeing this 4-pronged attack plan work and the resultant reduction in accidents and fatalities.
In the meanwhile, do discard all those aggression, horrible kiasu thoughts, calmdown and please don't drink [In Slovakia and the Czech Republic, the blood alcohol limit for driving is zero!] before you start driving next and do drive carefully. Click here for some road safety tips.
And to all of you celebrating Deepavali and HariRaya Puasa, Selamat & Happy & Prosperous DeepaRaya & Safe Driving to you all!



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LONE's rantings for all interested, COMMENTS/KOPI-0s welcomed. Comments are solely the views of their makers
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