Malaysiakini Letter

Stop treating road killers with kid gloves

YS Chan  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | After calls were made to impose a lifetime ban on drivers that have caused deaths on the road, I was surprised with the objections raised by a road safety activist and an exco member of the Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation.

They were responding to calls for a review of Section 41 of the Road Transport Act 1987 which carries a maximum jail sentence of 10 years, with driving licenses suspended for three years for the first offence and 10 years for the second offence.

The road safety activist disagreed with the move to introduce a lifetime driving ban for those convicted in fatal road accidents.

He was reported to have said, “Imagine a 25-year-old offender being punished with a lifetime driving ban when his only skill is driving? Is this offender to be punished for the rest of his life? I believe that this offender will still continue to drive as it is his source of income.”

Instead, he proposed a road safety advocacy programme for drivers convicted of road accidents be ordered to perform community service and undergo counselling.

The Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation exco member said the existing laws are sufficient but enforcement and road safety education had to be beefed up. He also cautioned that the imposition of a lifetime driving ban would jeopardise a driver’s ability to make a living.

Their arguments are premised on the false belief that commercial vehicle drivers are incapable of acquiring other skills or work. In any case, it would be better to switch to another job after a serious accident, as the bad record could jeopardise their defence in the next accident.

Few people are aware of the many exclusion clauses in a motor insurance policy. Forty years ago, customers renting to drive a car must sign a declaration form that they have not been convicted of any driving offence or had their driving licence endorsed.

Later, such declarations were embedded in the car rental agreement and it was customary for customers to sign agreements without reading or understanding the terms and conditions, similar to vehicle owners with their motor insurance policies.

These include those driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or without valid driving licences. The 41-year-old trailer driver involved in the accident that killed five people recently on the North-South Expressway was found to have traces of methamphetamine in his urine.

It is against the law for drivers to operate motor vehicles on the road if they are not covered by insurance. Therefore, all those found to be so should not be allowed to drive, period.

The next-of-kin of the five victims killed in the accident will not be getting any compensation from the trailer’s motor insurance company. They would have to sue the driver and vehicle owner and may get nothing if the transport company goes bust as the driver has no means to pay.

The sooner we remove those who have caused deaths and potential killers on the road, the lesser chance of more accidents that bring untold misery and great suffering to the injured victims and their loved ones.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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