Road accidents can happen at any time and even when you least expect it to. Given our track record, it’s no surprise we’ve been rudely awakened to needing a way to solve this, and quickly. The numbers show a 3.3 percent increase in road accidents in the first quarter of this year, 117,934 cases, compared to 2014 where it stood at 114,115. That upward trend is worrisome.
According to a report by Bernama, stopping this problem at its source would necessitate curbing the lousy driving habits that Malaysian’s have gotten used to practising as part of their everyday habits on the road. It may seem like a being asked to move a mountain, but can we turn Malaysia into a country known for courteous and responsible drivers?
The report mentions four key areas of focus:
Driving School Syllabus – A lot of us approach getting our driving license as a means to an end. Sit through lectures, read books, master some commonly used manoeuvres, and before long one’s license is obtained. The problem is, to be fully equipped to drive well on our roads requires a much more comprehensive education. Not just to remain safe but to not violate traffic laws, inadvertently or otherwise.
Help University’s Crime and Criminology Institute Director Datuk Akhbar Satar is calling for a review of the current driving school syllabus to modernise it and to weed out its flaws and incompleteness.
"I feel it's important for the driving school syllabus to cover topics such as ethics and courtesy. These days, it's quite common to see people being rude and even behaving like gangsters when on the road," he said.
Enforcement – The frequency of accidents, altercations, violations, even fatalities has contributed greatly to the public view that the enforcement is slack. It’s not just where speeding and illegal racing is concerned, but inconsiderate drivers who are guilty of even minor traffic offences (double parking, improper use of the emergency lane, tailgating, queue cutting, texting while driving, illegal u-turns, etc) and repeat them over and over without any disciplinary action taken against them will likely think they will not be punished even for more serious infractions either, and are therefore more likely to commit them.
Akhbar said "Selfish drivers should not be let off that easily. If they commit an offence, they should be punished accordingly. We have to discipline Malaysian drivers with stricter laws, so that they learn to respect other road users."
Reality Driving – A subset of the driving school syllabus reform, 31-year old local driving instructor Mohamed Salim Thayubkhan agrees that the current system does not equip students with the realities of driving, especially in urban areas. He describes that the typical driver in Kuala Lumpur as “highly selfish, with little or no regard for their own safety or the safety of other road users. They are not all considerate.”
"Driving skills can only be learnt through practical lessons, not from books on driving. In reality, what is written in the books is different from what's happening on our roads," Mohamed Salim said.
Rational and Mature – On the subject of motoring clubs and healthy motorsports activities, Malaysian Youth Parliament Member (Kedah), Muhammad Nur Faruqi Ismail said "There's nothing wrong in them joining motoring clubs but they must make sure that they are well versed in road safety. For example, if they intend to travel in a convoy, they should have a marshal to supervise them and ensure that they are adhering to the speed limit.” The doors are open for youths to explore safe avenues in motoring so that they will not succumb to the negative and illegal aspects of it.