OPS Selamat 16/2020 recorded 171 fatalities at the end of 11 days. The number of crashes had increased by 10% from 15,464 last year to 16,940.
Road accidents bleed our country of an estimated RM9bil annually. Therefore, the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) calls on the authorities to tighten the laws as well as enforcement and apply them consistently and without regard to social status.
The festive season also saw two crashes caused by drink driving. According to studies in the past, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has been worrisome.
To tighten the laws on drink driving, our authorities should look at Sweden where driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol is regarded as a detestable crime, regardless of whether the driver is involved in an accident or not.
In the past, it was a tradition in Sweden to drink to intoxication. Today, however, it has the lowest rate of alcohol abuse and drink driving in Europe. Now, a person who has consumed alcohol, no matter how little, does not drive. Fines are based upon how much money the offender has in the bank. Furthermore, the vehicles of repeat offenders are impounded and scrapped.
Government vehicles in Sweden are fitted with an alcohol ignition interlock device which prevents the vehicle from being started if any trace of alcohol is detected on the driver.
In Malaysia, our laws need tightening and, more importantly, the authorities need to ensure that they are implemented consistently and fairly without regard for the status of a person.
The practice of offering discounts for unpaid summonses should cease immediately. This should never be done as it would only encourage drivers to continue breaking the rules.
Police should keep tabs on places where drinking parties are held and check the drivers leaving the premises.
In road accident statistics, motorcyclists comprise about 60% of the fatalities. Unfortunately, the age group of 16 to 30 is the most affected. Therefore, the government must encourage the use of public transport by making it affordable and convenient nationwide.
CAP reiterates its call for the authorities to tighten the existing traffic laws and enforce them consistently and fairly, encourage more motorists to migrate to public transport, and make it mandatory for public transport vehicles and private cars to be installed with alcohol sensing devices that will prevent a drunk driver from starting his vehicle. The police should also watch premises that are known to hold drinking parties and test the drivers as they leave.
MOHD MOHIDEEN ABDUL KADER
Consumers’ Association of Penang
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