PETALING JAYA: There is a need to set up a Traffic Court to enable speedier prosecution of traffic offen-
ders to go hand-in-hand with stiffer penalties, said a road safety consultant.
Dr Radin Omar Radhin Sohadi, the Director of Road Safety Research Centre of University Putra Malaysia, said one of the biggest challenges in punitive measures for traffic offenders was the time frame needed to complete prosecution, which could take between three to five years.
He said there were sufficient penalties, such as the mandatory jail sentence for causing death due to reckless driving under the Road Transport Act, whose punishment is comparable to manslaughter but many offenders often failed to feel the deterrent effect due to slow prosecution.
The law is there but it is time to have a specific court for traffic offences to expedite prosecution, considering the high number of accidents and fatalities.
We also need experts in the field of forensics, science and engineering to establish evidence through reconstruction of an accident to combine with eyewitness accounts to prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt, he said in an interview.
Dr Radin was responding to suggestions made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Thursday to ban errant motorists from driving for up to five years and impose higher fines to curb reckless driving and reduce road fatalities.
Transport Ministry Undersecretary (Land Division) Suret Singh, in welcoming Abdullah's suggestion, said the RSC would have a review meeting a week after Hari Raya to discuss the matter.
We will table the statistics and trend of accidents gathered. We also need to study the effectiveness of the awareness campaign carried out through the print and electronic media, whether the public understood the message, he added.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye suggested that the suspension of driving licence for up to 10 years for those who persistently refused to drive safely.
He also suggested a syllabus on road safety for primary schools to inculcate good etiquette and behaviour on the road, adding there should also be no appeal for a reduction in fine for careless drivers.
MCA Hotline Service chairman Tai Sim Yew proposed that besides heavier penalties, traffic offenders should be sent for re-education on safe and defensive driving.
In Putrajaya, the Road Transport Department (JPJ) said it was ready to consider imposing heavier penalties on errant motorists, especially probationary drivers to help reduce the number of road accidents and fatalities.
JPJ director-general Datuk Emran Kadir said the department received many complaints and suggestions from the public on probationary drivers, who committed serious road offences.
If they accumulate 10 demerit points, their licence will be suspended and for them to get a new licence, they would have to resit their driving test and pay RM700.
I am sure people do not want to pay RM700 just to sit for another test. If you dont want to pay, please drive carefully, he said.
Some 500,000 people are issued with probationary driving licences annually.