THE number of motorcyclists dying in road accidents in Malaysia may overtake Thailand’s figure according to a news report. In 2013, the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) highlighted that Malaysia has the fifth highest rate of fatal accidents involving motorcycles in the world.
The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) would like to ask why this rate keeps rising despite all the research into the issue and efforts to curb accidents over the years.
Based on a decade of accident statistics, the percentage of motorcycle fatalities has never dipped below 58% of all road fatalities.
In 2020, it reached an astounding 67.29%.
The number of registered motorcycle owners is almost half the total of all registered vehicles in the country, and this obviously increases the chance of an accident as there is competition over road use.
A 2016 Miros study showed that the highest number of fatal accidents, serious injuries and minor injuries involved motorcyclists aged between 16 and 25 years old.
And these are only the reported cases – the actual number of accidents may never be known as many minor ones are not reported.
In a Miros study of 921 students from 32 secondary schools, researchers found that 62.4% of the students rode a motorcycle without a licence.
As many as 89.8% of the students admitted that they had learned to ride a motorcycle when they were as young as 12 years old.
Out of the 575 students who rode a motorcycle without a licence, 88.2% of them had never received a summons. The survey also showed that 62.6% of the students’ parents did not stop or forbid their children from riding a motorcycle without a licence.
The government should consider allowing school-going motorcyclists to only ride mopeds, which are small motorcycles that can only reach speeds of between 42kph 45kph. Restricting youths to mopeds would keep them from speeding, which is vital because “speed thrills but kills”.
One other outcome of the study showed that the students’ parents adopted a lackadaisical attitude towards their children’s safety.
Law enforcers are also abetting this violation of the law (riding motorcycles without a licence) by not performing their duty diligently as underlined by the fact that none of the students had ever received a summons. If the law is not enforced, then it serves no purpose to impose a minimum age for riding a motorcycle.
Miros also noted that most motorcyclists turn onto major roads from intersections less than four seconds from oncoming vehicles, and this has resulted in many serious accidents; also, the riders are poor at using their turn signal to alert other road users to their intention to turn.
While potholes, poor road design and bad road conditions are factors in accidents involving motorcyclists, the human factor cannot be eliminated and it has to be addressed by strict enforcement of the law.
The Miros study found that most accidents involving motorcycles were the result of careless riding, speeding, traffic light violations, and dangerous turning. How many motorcycle licences have been suspended since the implementation of the demerit points system for traffic offences (known as Kejara) in 2017, we wonder?
We urge the government to heavily penalise motorists, whether in vehicles or on motorbikes, who flout traffic regulations.
People tend to break the law when they know that either they can likely get away with their act or that the penalty is light.
Research reveals that there was a decrease in the number of people violating the red light rule in the first year after the installation of the Automated Enforcement System to catch those who jumped the lights. However, the number of offenders has gone up in the subsequent years.
It is a mockery of the law when the government makes “seasonal” offers of hefty discounts for traffic fines. Instead of lessening the fine, why can’t the government blacklist defaulters and prevent them from renewing their licence or road tax if they have outstanding fines?
This would surely ensure all road users make more of an effort to obey the rules.
MOHIDEEN ABDUL KADER
President, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP)