KUALA LUMPUR: Based on Home Ministry data, there were 807 accidents involving vehicles going against the flow of traffic since January this year, Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong told the Dewan Rakyat.
The Transport Minister was responding to a question from Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh (PH-Ledang) during Ministers' Question Time on Tuesday (Sept 28).
"From the total, 29 fatalities were recorded, 17 cases had serious injuries, 49 with minor injuries and 712 cases involving damage," he said.
He also told the Dewan Rakyat that his ministry has never ordered that senior citizens above 70 years old would have to surrender their driving licences.
The Ayer Hitam MP said the ministry has never made such a requirement as driving competency is not based on an individual's age.
"If you look at YB Langkawi (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad), he can drive very well.
"Far better than those who drive recklessly on the roads.
"So there cannot be discrimination for those who are aged 70 and above.
"That is why I said it is not the stance of the ministry and we have no intention of changing it," he said in reply to a supplementary question from Syed Ibrahim.
The Opposition lawmaker had asked what measures were being taken by the ministry to curb fatal traffic accidents.
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir, who is 96, is known for his love of driving and sometimes even drove to official functions.
Dr Wee also noted that fatal traffic crashes involving those who were under the influence of drugs and alcohol had dropped slightly following the introduction of harsher penalties due to amendments to the Road Transport Act 1987.
"Based on the data we received, from January until July this year, the total number of fatal car crashes stood at 2,560 cases.
"From the total, 11 cases involving fatalities were due to the influence of alcohol and drugs," he added.
He said that he has ordered the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) to carry out a study, which is still ongoing, on the impact of the harsher penalties for those driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
"From what we have found, the mandatory jail term does serve as a deterrent."
Dr Wee pointed out that there has been a change of mindset from previous times when many would just drive home after having drinks.
"This is among the steps the ministry has taken to prevent fatal accidents," he said.
He added that studies have found that human factors were among the main contributors to car crashes, especially for those who were speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and not focusing on driving because of the use of mobile phones and road navigation apps.