PETALING JAYA: In the first five days of Ops Sikap IX which started last Thursday, 80 lives were lost in a total of 4,967 road accidents – the highest number of fatalities and mishaps since Ops Sikap was launched in 2001 for the balik kampung crowd.
In the past eight Ops Sikap, the highest number of deaths recorded in the two-week operations was 79 (in 2002 and 2003), while road accidents peaked at 4,528 during Deeparaya last year.
But this Deeparaya, the numbers surpassed previous records in just five days. It just shows that we Malaysians never learn.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy are both equally fed up with the situation.
“It all boils down to attitude,” said Najib.
“There is nothing much that you can do if a driver wants to be reckless and does not follow advice for his own safety,” he told reporters after launching The Star's Bahasa Malaysia news portal mStar Online at his office in Putrajaya on Monday.
“Everybody needs to observe the law. First of all, the speed limit. Second, be courteous, and third, the old adage ‘Better late than never’,” he said.
“In other countries you find the motorists are very responsible. If you look from the air, the motorists travel in tandem. But if you fly over the highways in Malaysia, you will see people zig-zagging.
“They go all over the place. They change lanes. Those in the fast lane drive slowly; those in the slow lane drive fast. They do all kinds of things.”
He said the number of deaths per day averaged 17.
“That to me is very alarming because they are mostly youths,” he added.
The high number of deaths from road accidents is also making Chan very unhappy.
“You are supposed to balik kampung to celebrate, and your parents are waiting for your return. But what they eventually see is a dead body,” he told reporters yesterday after checking on how KLIA was handling the passenger load during this festive period.
Chan said his ministry’s road safety campaigns had brought down the number of deaths for every 10,000 vehicles from 8.6 deaths several years ago to 4.5 last year.
“Just imagine if we did not run any campaigns or deploy thousands of officers ... the number could be higher. This year we expect the figure to be further reduced to about four deaths per day,” he added.
Road Safety Department director-general Suret Singh said 95% of accidents was caused by human error.
He said the eight golden rules that motorists should observe are:
· Plan your journey. If you are tired, sleepy, drunk or in an emotional state, postpone your trip.
· Keep to the speed limit.
· When changing lanes, signal or use your indicators. Check for traffic via your side mirrors and rear view mirror.
· Comply with road regulations at intersections, especially at traffic light junctions.
· Avoid tailgating.
· Observe safety guidelines when overtaking. And never overtake when in doubt.
· Don’t jump queue or abuse emergency lanes.
· Avoid weaving through traffic.
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