LETTER | I am indeed very happy to learn that the Transport Ministry and the Works Ministry have decided to team up and launch what is referred to as “Op Bersepadu” in conjunction with the Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays.
The purpose of this “Op Bersepadu” is to undertake a major campaign for motorists to be made aware of safe driving and road safety.
Op Bersepadu began on Jan 18 and it will last until Jan 28. Under this campaign, motorists are not supposed to flout traffic rules and regulations anymore and the starting point for them is when they travel during this CNY holiday period. Hopefully, this will become a daily habit for them all to drive safely and courteously, too.
As traffic is expected to be very heavy during this holiday week and throughout the country’s roads, especially along the expressways, observing strict rules and regulations will ensure a smoother flow.
Whilst the prime minister has waived toll charges for two days (Jan 20-21), which is another commendable effort by this new government, the heavy traffic flow could also cause or lead to many road accidents.
If motorists take a lackadaisical attitude towards safety and do not pay attention to safe driving habits and behaviour, then they could be in big trouble. To be safe means they have to pay serious attention to road traffic laws and regulations.
Seven core offences
Transport Minister Anthony Loke, at the launch of “Op Bersepadu” in Dengkil a few days ago, singled out seven offences which will not be issued with any summons. Instead, offenders will be hauled up straight to court.
The offences listed are:
▪︎ overtaking on double lines
▪︎ beating traffic lights
▪︎ using handphones while driving
▪︎ not wearing seatbelts or helmets, and
▪︎ driving in emergency lanes.
These are very simple rules to follow. Probably, due to their simplicity, many motorists take them lightly or took them for granted in the past.
The lack of enforcement may also be a reason that has led to this rampant abuse of traffic rules and regulations.
It has been noted that many motorists have developed these bad habits as part of their routine driving behaviour whenever they are on the road.
Given that the number of deaths resulting from road accidents in Malaysia is high, the onus to reduce the numbers, therefore, lies in the hands of all motorists.
The government could mount a campaign, one after another, but the ones who suffer most from our poor driving habits and behaviour are ourselves.
Our efforts to reduce road accidents are not sufficient by focusing only on the first two E; education and engineering improvement (read as better road design, layout and safety features).
It has to be accompanied by the third E; Enforcement.
Enforcement merely by issuing summons or fines is no longer effective. Heavier penalties such as via the “Kejara” demerit point system, for instance, must be considered and meted out to regular or repeat offenders.
Having a driving licence suspended, revoked, or cancelled would be a potent threat to many motorists.
Actually, the road traffic rules and regulations are very clear. The Kejara system, which was approved by Parliament and gazetted for implementation in April 2017, has not been fully enforced.
This demerit system was revised for clarity in 2020 and now has 20 scheduled offences including the seven mentioned by the minister.
The system is good and similar to those practised in the UK, Europe, and Japan.
Perhaps, now is the best opportunity for the authorities to reconsider enforcing them and be very serious about it.
In accordance with the provisions as contained in Kejara schedules, these offences could also be taken straight to court or offenders can also be issued with a ticket (or summons).
Such a summon could be settled via a fine but Kejara demerit points will still be applied.
Reactivating the existing laws under Kejara and making it mandatory for offenders to be taken to court will definitely be a good step in the right direction.
Drive safely and Happy Chinese Year to all.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.