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LETTER | Traffic accidents are worsening in Malaysia

LETTER | Of late, there have been numerous heartrending traffic accidents, distressing the nation.

Many family members got killed, both husband and wife dying in the accidents and orphaning the children, or fire engulfing the vehicle and killing all inside.

Usually, the main reasons such as reckless driving or poor road conditions are cited as causes and excuses.

However, these explanations are not enough and the causes need to be delved deeper. There are now millions of vehicles and drivers and as such, the natural law of numbers kicks in, which simply means there will be more accidents resulting in injuries and fatalities.

Accidents have begun to have a significant socioeconomic effect in that thousands are killed, maimed or injured yearly, resulting in the loss of breadwinners and affecting livelihoods.

People have also become disabled for life, resulting in hefty pay-outs of compensation by private insurers and Social Security Organisation (Socso) - not to mention damage or write-off of costly vehicles.

Motorcyclists continue to top the number of fatalities. The yearly loss from all these, if quantified, could run into billions of ringgit.

To be fair, the government provides large allocations to the Works Ministry and Transport Ministry for their needs to ensure roads are safe.

The drivers too cannot be faulted for every accident. Sometimes, it is plain luck to avoid an accident, and it could also be the other way around!

From observation, some of the major causes of traffic accidents are recklessness, speeding, risky overtaking, blind corners, lack of full concentration on the road due to usage of hand phones and Waze, drunk driving, driving under the influence of drugs or due to heavy medication.

Other causes include eyesight issues or poor vision during heavy rain, haphazard parking, illegal speed breakers, mistakes by new and inexperienced drivers, heavy tinting of windscreens and windows and losing patience especially when stuck in traffic jams.

Construction activities by the roadside are additional dangers and detours, road barriers and unlit stretches where streetlamps have been switched off by the contractors to facilitate construction make them accident-prone.

The poor condition of vehicles is also to blame. Due to economic hardship for the past few years, a sizeable number of vehicle owners do not maintain their vehicles well and these vehicles become dangerous with worn-out tyres, windscreen wipers and brakes.

Improve road conditions

Overloading of passenger cars can also lead to mishaps. Heavy vehicles nowadays with high-powered engines are driven fast, especially on their return trips when carrying heavy loads, and due to speeding become accident-prone.

So, how to resolve the matter? For starters, road conditions too need to be improved. Regular re-surfacing should be carried out to prevent the surface from being worn out, avoid potholes and ensure road markings are visible.

Signboards play an important role despite the popular usage of the Waze, and trees or branches blocking the signboards need to be trimmed.

And the importance of streetlights cannot be over-emphasised. Nowadays, a large number of people travel at night and streetlights play an essential role in night-time road safety.

This is one crucial aspect which continues to be ignored by the authorities. Sometimes one can see miles of streetlights not lighted at night. Streetlights are not installed for decorative purposes, but to provide additional safety.

The Demerit Points System for Traffic Offences (Kejara) system needs to be implemented urgently to overcome the shortcomings, corruption and other problems in the present enforcement system by both the Road Transport Department (RTD) and the traffic police.

The mayhem and lawlessness on Malaysian roads and highways must end sooner for the betterment of the country.

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