KEPALA BATAS: The Government will hold a public forum to discuss the causes and factors that have led to an increase in accidents and traffic summonses, especially during the festive season.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said every factor and the causes of accidents, including the high number of summonses issued, would be analysed and discussed in detail at the forum.
“The forum will provide a better understanding of the situation for a comprehensive report to be issued as a guideline to overcome the problem in the future,” he said.
Abdullah, who proposed on Thursday that errant motorists be banned from driving for up to five years and be imposed higher fines, added that the one-day forum in Kuala Lumpur would involve the participation of all parties, including the public.
“The people have responded positively and constructively to my proposal and also given their suggestions,” he said during a live interview with TV3 at his Hari Raya open house at Dewan Milenium here yesterday. “It is their feedback that has given me the idea to hold the forum.”
He also advised motorists to be patient and courteous on the road during the drive back home after celebrating the festive season in their hometowns.
“I am worried that there would be a traffic jam in Kuala Lumpur following the landslide at the New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE). Motorists caught in the jam are bound to lose their patience and temper and speed after that,” said Abdullah.
In Kuala Lumpur, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said his ministry was seriously looking into Abdullah’s suggestion for stiffer penalties against errant motorists.
“If the present penalties are not tough enough, we will not hesitate to amend the relevant laws to provide for stiffer penalties,” he told a press conference after opening the International Conference on Chinese Culture organised by the Universiti Malaya Chinese Studies Department Alumni and the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.
Chan said the ministry might introduce the traffic safety education process as early as in primary school.
The ministry would also review driving test procedures to see if they were “good enough to ascertain a driver is skilful and has the correct attitude.”
He said 60% to 70% of traffic accidents were caused by human error.
He said comparatively the number of road accidents and fatalities had decreased. For example, there were 8.4 deaths per 10,000 motor vehicles in 1996 compared to 4.8 last year.
“But these are still very, very alarming figures and we are not happy. We will do whatever we can to further reduce the lives lost from motor accidents,” he said.
In Simpang Pertang, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim called for a study on the effectiveness of enforcement work before measures are taken to impose higher penalties.
The penalties were already hefty, with some offences carrying a jail term of up to 15 years, he said at the Hari Raya open house of his political secretary Datuk Yunus Rahmat at the Simpang Durian community hall yesterday.
“The Road Transport Department presently has the authority to suspend driving licences on the spot,” he said.