Making mockery of traffic rules


  • Letters
  • Saturday, 15 Feb 2020

I REFER to the letter “Lay down the law on drivers who break the rules” (The Star, Feb1).

I’d like to recap three key points to reiterate the poor civic culture and general lack integrity among some people in our beloved country. The government is to be blamed for this as well.

1. Ops Selamat 16/2020 recorded 171 fatalities at the end of 11 days. The number of crashes increased by 10% from 15,464 last year to 16,940.

2. Road accidents bleed our country of an estimated RM9bil annually.

3. The practice of offering discounts for unpaid summonses should cease immediately. This should have never been started as it would only encourage drivers to continue breaking the rules.

On the point about road accidents (number of crashes) increasing by 10% within the last one year, I believe it is because most drivers today do not care to respect traffic rules since the traffic police seem to be not doing their jobs conscientiously.

Illegal parking is rampant but mostly ignored. Most park illegally to avoid paying parking fees while others are simply lazy to walk the distance. Double parking is common especially during festive seasons.

Jumping the red light is so common and I even saw a police patrol car doing this in broad daylight. A few years ago, my car was rammed from behind by the driver of the car behind who was trying to run the red light at full speed. The crash resulted in a major whiplash spine injury for me.

Cutting queue and road rage incidents are increasing by the day due to the selfish behaviour of those who show no regard or consideration for other road users.

It is common knowledge that some traffic police are on the take. I’ve seen money changing hands many times because the policemen (not all of them, of course) offer the offenders a choice between the easy way out (pay kopi-o money) or be issued a summons and going through the trouble of paying a costlier penalty. I believe 90-95% of traffic offenders would choose the former.

Reckless driving, deliberate over-speeding and overloaded old vehicles (mostly lorries) spewing black smoke continue to plague our roads. How could such vehicles that rightly belong in the junkyard pass the annual Road Transport Department inspections, I wonder.

Many motorbikes and cars are illegally modified, such as through deliberate removal of exhaust pipes (silencers), by racers and hell riders, creating noise pollution in housing areas. These irresponsible motorists endanger not only their own lives but other innocent road users as well.

The RM9bil if saved every year amounts to a huge sum of money which the country needs very much. Such savings can be used to build more roads/highways, reduce tolls, construct schools, clinic/hospitals and etc.

This figure does not include the intangible loss from suffering, such as the trauma of families and loved ones who are left to struggle to put food on the table if the accident led to the death of the principal breadwinner.

The loss of human capital, particularly those in the 16-35 age group, is also huge.

In this Internet of Things age, there’s no excuse for the traffic police database not to be linked up to the Road Transport Department’s database. Why is this not being done, I wonder.

If these departments are doing their jobs, they can impose surcharges, as is done by the Inland Revenue Board for delays in payment of taxes on incomes and other revenues due to the government. For those with unpaid summonses, road tax renewal must be disallowed outright.

Once people understand the consequences of not being able to drive legally, guess what would happen? But instead, the said authorities even have the guts to turn around and try their very best to portray themselves as Santa Claus by offering huge discounts (up to 50%) to entice people to pay their summonses.

This should not be done as it promotes a culture of irresponsibility and, worse, makes a mockery of the traffic rules and regulations. No wonder the majority do not take traffic offences seriously.

If the practice of offering discounts for unpaid summonses is continued, our roads and highways will remain notorious for being among the countries in the world with the highest fatality rate per capita no matter how many safety campaigns the government of the day carries out.

DR K. K. LIAW

Kuching


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