PETALING JAYA: Data for the first three months of this year alone shows that at least two teenagers are killed or seriously injured daily while driving cars or riding motorcycles without licences, revealed the Bukit Aman Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department.
Thirty of those who died in the first three months were under the age of 16, and nine were under the age of 18.
Records between January and March this year showed that out of the total of 157 unlicensed motorcyclists under the age of 16 involved in accidents, 46 were seriously injured. A total of 81 teenagers were left with minor injuries.
In those involving unlicensed drivers under 18 years old, 59 were seriously injured, while 555 more cases led to minor injuries.
Data given to The Star showed that Malaysia recorded a total of 8,484 accidents involving unlicensed teenage drivers and motorcyclists from 2018 until March this year.
Of the total, 2,617 cases resulted in fatal accidents or serious injuries. Another data set from the same department also showed that nearly half a million summonses – a total of 444,922 – were issued to underage drivers in less than five years between 2018 and March this year.
The first three months of this year saw a total of 15,424 summonses issued to unlicensed motorcyclists below the age of 16 and to owners who let those underage use their vehicles. A total of 8,601 summonses were issued to drivers under 18.
Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research chairman Assoc Prof Dr Wong Shaw Voon cautioned that these numbers might not depict an accurate picture, adding that many cases may go unreported.
He emphasised that parents play a role in monitoring and educating their children on the dangers of underage driving.
“Some parents feel that this is not a big issue because their children are only driving in a small compound or around the ‘jalan kampung’ (kampung roads), so there is nothing to worry about.
“But what they don’t think of is that one day, their children might sneak out at night while the parents are sleeping and drive around,” he said.
Explaining the reasons age limits are set, Wong said one must not only be physically ready but also mentally fit to drive on a public road.
“Physically, you may be big enough to handle a vehicle, but that does not mean that you are mentally fit to manage a machine that could potentially kill yourself or other innocent road users.
“Mentally fit means that you can make proper judgments, react swiftly, and take responsibility for your action,” he said.
Wong said many students also drive or ride motorcycles to schools without licences.
“All the relevant stakeholders, parents, teachers and police should do something about this.
“School administrators argue that the students park outside the school compound, so there is nothing they can do but correct them (the students). The police must come to school once in a while. Apart from the parents, the community needs to play a role too.”
On Monday, The Star reported that between 2018 and May this year, 163 deaths involving children could partly have been due to the parents’ negligence. The numbers do not include those involving fatal accidents by unlicensed underage drivers.
In an interview, Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division principal assistant director Asst Comm Siti Kamsiah Hassan said she believed that negligent parents should at least face some form of punishment.