Riders not the sole cause of motorcycle accidents


I REFER to the letter “Motorcycles and road safety” by George Thomas (The Star, Sept 3). It would appear that the writer has little or no motorcycling experience nor does he seem to have much idea as to the effective measures needed to reduce the motorcycle road accident toll.

He implies that there should be mandated restrictions on the number and type of motorcycles. Malaysia needs as many motorcycles of a size and type as people choose to buy, not some arbitrary restrictions. The logical extrapolation of that idea is to reduce motorcycle accidents to zero by banning motorcycles altogether!

This proposition would also indicate (although he does not say so) that there is some merit, in terms of safety, in limiting engine size. This has been shown internationally as flawed logic. For example, in New Zealand, learner-approved motorcycles are determined by a power/weight ratio thereby permitting learners to ride some 650cc machines but prohibits them, with good reason, from specific, extremely powerful (for their size) 250cc machines.

Motorcycle accidents, not just in Malaysia but in other countries as well, are not solely caused by riders but also, to a very considerable extent, by inattentive, unobservant, distracted (read cell phones), poorly trained and, notably in Asia, egotistical drivers of other vehicles. Drivers and riders (not only in Malaysia) generally demonstrate all of the above faults, including an abysmal lack of situational awareness, failure to use turn indicators and mirrors and a complete lack of lane discipline.

Further, as I walk a fair bit in some Asian cites, particularly Penang and Phuket, motorists, including Malaysians, seem intent on “taking out” pedestrians. Worse, Penangites park on any berm or sidewalk (where such exists), forcing people to walk on the road!

Malaysia will not lower its high motor vehicle accident statistics until prospective drivers/riders are taught from an early age to act responsibly behind the wheel/handlebars and have consideration for all other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.

This includes the need to refrain from using a motor vehicle as an extension of one’s egotistical personality. It also requires, as the writer pointed out, extensive and effective training. This is a long and hard road but necessary as no amount of “Band-Aid” regulation or enforcement will make much of an impression on the statistics.

By the way, I have held a full car licence since1956, and have consistently ridden motorcycles of all sizes since gaining a full motorcycle licence in 1960. Neither licence has ever been revoked, suspended or cancelled.

Now 78 years of age, I have completed about 150,000km (excluding New Zealand) of infringement and accident-free long-range touring in Malaysia, Thailand, Laos and the United States (as recently as June and July this year) since 2013. I am still an active motorcyclist.

VIC ALBORN , Paraparaumu, New Zealand


   

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