Malaysiakini Letter

The media should be careful in describing hit-and-run accidents

CY Ming  |  Published:  |  Modified:

A motorist was allegedly brutally beaten up by several men after he crashed into a motorcycle and four cars at Km18.5 of the New Pantai Expressway at 2am on Feb 14 near Kampung Datuk Harun.

Three men were recorded punching and kicking the 24-year-old car driver in a one minute-long video which had gone viral in social media.

The driver, who was on his way home after a night shift, sustained serious injuries and fell unconscious, and was taken to the University Malaya Medical Centre for treatment.

It would be wise for motorists not to stop after an accident if pedestrians or motorcyclists are injured when there are people around.

Bystanders can easily turn into an unruly mob and assault drivers involved in accidents, regardless of whose fault it is.

They do not take into account that they have not witnessed the collision, but seeing the injured writhing in pain is enough to make their blood boil.

The most dangerous are those who react merely from what they have heard and apply maximum force, resulting in many drivers and snatch thieves beaten to a pulp, and some dying, and with the assailants being charged with manslaughter.

When accidents occur on a deserted road, motorists should stop and send the injured to the nearest clinic or hospital.

If an unmanned vehicle is damaged, the driver should have the courtesy to leave details of his car behind so that the other party can opt for private settlement, or make an own damage or third party claim.

The media should be careful in describing hit-and-run accidents. It is not compulsory to stop after an accident, as reports can be lodged at the police station within 24 hours.

If the public are made to understand that they must stop, it will result in drivers stopping and getting beaten up. It will also infuriate other drivers to chase after those for not stopping.

Apart from such dangerous high-speed chases, forcing the ‘runaway’ vehicle to stop can have dire consequences, as the driver may emerge with a baseball bat to defend himself, and anything can happen when both parties are heated.

We should always remember that the driver at fault is not obliged to pay compensation.

The aggrieved party can always make an own damage claim without losing the no-claim discount if the vehicle is covered under comprehensive insurance.If not, to make a third party claim for repairs to the vehicle and for injuries, if any.

If there are no fatalities, accident vehicles should be driven or moved to a safer spot and not block traffic, although congestion will still occur as passing motorists slow down to gawk.

If the injured victims are already dead, it is essential that all vehicles involved in the accident should not be moved from the spot until police have completed investigations and gave clearance to do so.

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