One thing that has remained unchanged in the last five years is that road accidents continue to be among the top five causes of death.
The Department of Statistics Malaysia notes that in 2017, road accidents were the principal cause of death for people between 15 and 40 years old, while in 2016 it was the third highest percentage for premature deaths.
The Bukit Aman Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department recorded more than 400,000 road accidents in 2017, the result of which over 6,000 people died. That averages to more than 1,000 accidents and about 16 deaths daily.
It is unfortunate because road accidents are avoidable. Often, collisions are caused by human error. All it takes is just one irresponsible act to put lives at risk, such as answering a call or replying to a text. Changing unsafe driving behaviour calls for a change of mindset.
The Petronas StreetSmart programme, a corporate social responsibility initiative by Petronas Dagangan Berhad (PDB), aims to instil a safety-first mindset.
“Road safety is of utmost concern to us, given that we are in the business of fuelling our customers’ everyday journey. Petronas StreetSmart is our grassroots programme to embed a safety-first mindset among the youth to be responsible on the road, ” says PDB managing director and CEO Datuk Seri Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohd Tahir.
Introduced in 2013, the half-day programme is carried out in collaboration with the Petronas Science Discovery Centre (Petrosains) and Road Safety Department (JKJR), offering theoretical and practical approaches for students to grasp the importance of road safety.
JKJR further reinforces the message by sharing real-life incidents and providing the students road safety tips. Modules related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) were also crafted to engage students in a fun yet informative way to better understand road safety issues.
One such activity is the smart car model challenge, in which secondary school students use basic coding to programme a car to complete a route without breaking road safety rules.
“It was quite tough to get the coding correct, but we learnt a lot about how to stay safe on the road, ” said Hanisah, 14, who took part in the programme held at SMK Sanzac (Sabah) recently.
Primary school students on the other hand learnt to develop a lit device using micro:bit technology in the Be Bright, Be Seen activity. This can be pinned on their shirts or bags to provide extra visibility on the road, especially in the dark.
To date, the Petronas StreetSmart programme has educated almost 5,000 students from more than 50 schools across the nation. This year, PDB reached out to six schools in Sabah, Perlis and Negeri Sembilan, enlightening about 600 students.
Despite knowing about road safety, children are still susceptible to risks when left without adult supervision, such as when crossing the road, waiting for the bus or cycling home.
A shift in mindset is all it takes for us to learn to be more responsible, considerate and patient drivers, focus more on the road and our surroundings instead of our phones, and constantly remind ourselves like broken records that in all we do, safety should always come first.
This is perhaps the most basic yet powerful measure we can adopt, and at no cost, too! We should do what we can to change the tragic statistics. Your phone call can wait for now.
Those interested in the Petronas StreetSmart programme can visit the exhibition at the ground floor of i-City, Shah Alam from 10am to 10pm. Entrance is free. For more information, visit www.petronasstreetsmart.com.my.
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