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The Star Says

Published: Sunday April 20, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday April 20, 2014 MYT 7:35:06 AM

Don't let more people die in vain

THE darkest hours of the night and the wee hours of the morning – it is in these nocturnal hours that death waits at every bend and corner on our roads and highways.

The latest accident near Gua Tempurung on the North-South Expressway that claimed the lives of Karpal Singh and his personal aide, Michael Cornelius, has once again thrown the issue of safe driving at such hours into the limelight.

Those who prefer to drive at night because of the lighter traffic have to contend with the heavy vehicles that are more prominent at such times.

We have heard many stories about how such commercial drivers are overworked and underpaid. Some have been pushed to the limits of their physical endurance, and they may even be “sleeping on the job” at certain points of the journey.

But we must not forget it is not just drivers of public transport vehicles, like express buses and lorries, who have to be alert at such hours.

The individual driver who has not had adequate rest, who proudly boasts that he can travel from Kuala Lumpur to Penang on the North-South Expressway under four hours, has the potential to create just as much carnage on the roads as any public vehicle driver.

The investigation into the latest accident is in progress and we must allow the police to carry out their work professionally.

But the preliminary information gives cause for concern.

Why was the lorry driver, who was transporting a load of cement, steel and tiles, travelling with his 23-year-old wife and their four-year-old daughter? What are we to make of the initial test on the lorry driver that came out positive for cannabis? What about the traffic summonses linked to Karpal’s vehicle, a total of 29 of which 15 had not been settled?

If we look back at past accidents, we can see striking similarities involving speeding offences, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and known poor driving records.

Every accident, it seems, might not have happened in the first place if proper precautions are taken and danger is not deliberately unleashed on our roads.

The recent accident involving a double-decker bus that crashed in Bentong, claiming three lives, is a glaring example – the driver has since been charged under Section 15(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act and is liable to be jailed for up to two years or fined a maximum of RM5,000 or both, if found guilty.

But how did the company get away with allowing the driver on the bus in the first place?

All drivers, whether at the wheels of a commercial vehicle or a private vehicle, are susceptible to fatigue. More so in the middle of the night or the wee hours of the morning.

Yes, we can identify the killer stretches on our roads and highways. We can call for better enforcement.

But at the end of the day, it will still come up to that moment when, in the blink of an eye, a lapse in judgment by one party will lead to a horrific accident that claims the lives of the innocent.

It could happen to any of us. We have said it before. And we will say it again. For Malaysians to continue with their lackadaisical attitude towards matters of life and death on our roads is to continue to let more people die in vain.

Tags / Keywords: Opinion, sunday star says

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