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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Kopi-O licence drives us mad

With motorists flouting even basic rules and acting as if they own the road, the chance of accidents occurring is increasing. The authorities must act quickly to rectify the situation.

SCREECH...! Aahhh!” That was the sound of my car tyres screaming (and me shouting) as I slammed hard on the brakes to avoid being hit by a black Mer- cedes-Benz making an illegal U-turn in the busy Kota Kinabalu city centre.

The middle-aged man, who was obviously on the wrong side of the road, even had the guts to give me an angry stare as both of our vehicles stopped at an odd angle. Luckily, no other cars were close by or things could have been worse.

Amid his glares, all I did was shout at him (to which he responded angrily) and showed him a rude hand sign before parting ways.

Since this incident, I have come to realise that many motorists are becoming so oblivious of traffic rules and simple courtesy.

They fail to realise the wisdom of “give and take”, and this is one of the reasons that I wish there are more surveillance cameras as well as stricter traffic rules in Malaysia.

Offenders such as the man in the black Mercedes-Benz would be caught and given a demerit imme­diately.

Such undisciplined drivers are increasing by the day, with more vandals and road bullies adding to the problems involving vehicles and roads.

I think many of us would agree that if the authorities start getting stricter and installing CCTVs in more places, not only to catch speeding vehicles but also to teach undisciplined drivers how to behave properly, the situation would change.

The bad driving habits of Malaysians led to a group of anonymous motorists posting various traffic offences on Facebook under the name of “KK Kopi-O Lesen”.

One Jenny Tan shared a photo of a Toyota D-Max parked near a junction, beside an empty parking space, causing road users a lot of inconvenience.

The administrator of the page wrote: “Is there a competition for the most Kopi-O (terrible) Driver in KK? If yes, this driver must surely be a finalist.”

Another one, Christopher Chia, also shared a picture showing a white Toyota D-Max parked in the middle of a yellow line which clearly indicates where one vehicle should park, to which the administrator wrote “Parking #fail cascade”.

There are also pictures taken by the passengers of ambulances showing “tag-along” drivers who are opportunists taking the chance to jump queue by tailing closely behind an ambulance on an emergency trip.

Out of the cyber zone, a friend of mine related how she almost had a heart attack upon seeing her Perodua Kenari, which was parked nicely by the roadside near her apartment, damaged and with a note reading “please don’t park your car here” attached.

She had called a policeman friend who took photos of the damaged vehicle and the police gave their assurance they would send a couple of policemen to patrol the area more often.

Other people have also shared their experiences where when they are in the left lane and have signalled to move to the right, the vehicle behind on the right lane would suddenly speed up and foil any attempt of anyone getting to the other side.

My siblings, on the other hand, always complain about absolutely annoying situations: for instance, while waiting at a T-junction for a slow-moving vehicle to pass, the driver ends up turning into the junction without using any signal.

Something seriously must be done to rekindle the spirit of courteous and considerate driving.

Continuous education on how to act on the road is very important to ensure people do not become more undisciplined and rude on the road because it is a dangerous place to be in with such a bad attitude.

Accidents happen all the time and without enforcement of existing laws, the situation would get worse with drivers becoming angrier and ruder and accidents becoming more gruesome.

Although (according to the police) it is not possible to fine or arrest drivers who double park or those who do not signal before switching lanes, among others, alternative methods need to be sought to rectify the situation.

“How can we keep track of all these as our manpower is limited?” said Kota Kinabalu traffic and public order chief Deputy Supt Peter Umbuas.

To me, at the end of the day, if every one of us observes the rules on the road and is courteous, driving will definitely be less annoying.

> Stephanie Lee is a reporter who hopes that one day driving will be fun, safe and stress free on roads full of courteous and considerate drivers.

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