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LETTER | Missing 'A' factor is cause for deteriorating road safety

LETTER | Transport Minister Anthony Loke is very committed to reforming our road safety.

The police have thrown in their fair share by carrying out countless road safety operations.

We in all likelihood have also lost count of the decades of public campaigns carried out with hopes of improving road safety.

But Malaysia continues to soar ahead with road fatalities, law-breaking and unsafe road conditions.

Indeed we are being paralysed by the lack of the big “A” factor, ie attitude.

Our aggregate attitude nationwide is slipping fast and falling lower with each passing year.

We drive or ride recklessly. We have absolute disregard for all the traffic laws. We beat traffic lights all the time. We park indiscriminately. We plough through on the emergency lanes for as long as no cop is in sight.

We speed like we own the right of way no matter what the condition is. We tailgate like bullies. Speeding is common among commercial vehicles just to earn that extra buck.

All of these and the many more bad behaviours on the road tell a tale of how dangerously Malaysians are lacking in the right attitude.

Bad attitudes lead to unsafe actions.

Next, we have a system nationwide that seems unable to improve let alone reform unsafe conditions.

Here again, it is all about attitude.

Motor workshops do not do good and reliable maintenance work owing to the fact that we do not have an effective system in place to regulate this industry.

Motor spare parts have long remained suspect of low quality and imitation parts but are well sought after owing to pricing.

Repair and maintenance of roads and street lighting are a bane that continues to haunt us nationwide despite all the repeated exposes in the media, year in and year out.

These are some of the countless unsafe conditions motorists have to face.

When these unsafe actions and unsafe conditions collude, we have accidents. Period.

If the transport minister is to succeed in his march to reform road safety then I think the “A” factor needs to be addressed foremost. It calls for a holistic approach and one that is driven by a national will with a stringent timeline.

As some have postulated, perhaps the time has come to dismantle all the fragmented efforts to try and improve road safety, ie unsafe actions and unsafe conditions.

It is time to think boldly and decisively to set up a central body that commands, directs and accounts for road safety.

It must be helmed by the prime minister and accountable to Parliament. It must be as important if not more than tackling the economic, environmental, social and political paradigms of the nation.

After all, this is a national and nationwide problem that has already boomeranged into a serious crisis.

Private sectors - employers, commercial vehicle owners and operators, highway builders/operators, Federal road custodians, etc - have collaborative accountability if we are to make a U-turn on our statistics.

For example, employers should factor in employees getting booked for breaking road safety laws as a prerequisite consideration in paying annual bonuses.

Civil servants getting booked for repeated traffic offences too should be penalised with a demotion.

The police meanwhile desperately need newer technologies like aerial road safety monitoring devices and capabilities to mount pressure on obstinate attitudes.

Roadside police operations have proven to be outdated and totally ineffective.

We need AI-driven hardware to provide up-to-date information on road users who continue repeatedly to break road safety laws.

We need A-class enforcement to eradicate poor quality/imitation motor vehicle spare parts. We have remained victims of this segment of thieving syndicates for far too long and only enriched the hidden hands behind the operatives.

Improving and maintaining road conditions must be the deciding factors for the renewal of business contracts and licences to the operators as much as holding them subject to being taken to court.

Unless and until we address our falling, failing attitudes, nothing is going to change much in so far as road safety is concerned.

And all that remains then is to be crowned as the world's most dangerous roads with the highest fatalities.

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

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