'Early road education the key'


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 15 Feb 2003

BY K. SAITHURUKA

PETALING JAYA: Stiffer penalties will not deter errant drivers unless early education on road safety is put in place, Association of Malaysian Driving Institutes president Mat Aris said. 

He said early education on road safety should be instilled from young instead of starting it only when drivers turned 17 or 18 years old and sat for driving tests. 

Mat Aris said the Government and those in the industry should constantly upgrade the driving curriculum and enforcement. 

“At 17 or 18, they (the drivers) already know how to use motorcycles and cars but do not follow safety procedures. They need to be educated on how to behave tolerantly and have civic-consciousness before they even get on the roads. 

“Early road safety education, strict enforcement and the present driving curriculum have to be reviewed if we want Malaysian drivers to be skilful. It is not enough to just have stiffer penalties unless all these are addressed,” he said. 

He was commenting on the statement by the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board on Tuesday that it welcomed a proposal by Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim for stiffer penalties to keep killer drivers off the road. 

Mat Aris said the present driving curriculum, which is upgraded every five years, needed more than just the basics such as road signs, parking and safe driving. 

“The current theory and practical curriculum is very basic and used to just get the licence. In Australia, one is made to go through various braking systems, skid control exercises and cornering techniques before they are allowed to obtain a licence,” he said. 

Mat Aris added it would be unfair for the authorities to penalise drivers heavily before thoroughly training them as most could not anticipate danger and often panicked in emergency situations. 

“Enforcement needs to be carried out strictly because in countries such as the UK and Australia, the enforcement is constant and swift and people are afraid of breaking the law.”  

Mat Aris added that here, although many might have arrest warrants and summonses for traffic offences and in some cases, expired licences, they felt free to drive and endanger the lives of others.  

In these cases, he said, a deterrent prison sentence should do the trick. 

He also said local councils should maintain the roads and make sure road signs were clear so that the public are fully aware of their surroundings.  

“In certain countries, the road signs and markings are so visible from aerial view. Here, the signs contradict and even overlap one another, confusing the road users,” he said. 

However, he added that local driving instructors were up to date with the curriculum supplied by the Government and did a good job because they attended training sessions regularly. 

National Union of Teaching Profession secretary general Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam agreed early road education should be carried out at the primary level. 

“These don’t have to be taught as subjects but could be introduced in the present syllabus under the Moral and even English Language lessons. Starting at 17 or 18 is good but at this stage, students are already using motorcycles and even cars.  

“Nowadays, drivers are rude, selfish, hot-tempered and always want to be the first in the queue,” he said.  

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