5 common causes of road accidents in MalaysiaPOSTED BY Adela Megan Willy ON 29 July 2015
IMAGINE this, you are rushing to fetch your child from school, decide to swerve through the heavy traffic and end up getting hit by another vehicle.
Or you are driving your car on a long stretch of road filled with potholes, abruptly avoid one but in the process, you accidentally hit a motorcyclist or another driver travelling on the next lane.
Or how about this – you receive a phone call while driving. You connect your headset to your audio system via Bluetooth, get a little too engrossed in the conversation and in just a split second, you knock the vehicle in front of you.
The said scenarios may be examples of typical scenes churned out by the film industry, but most unfortunately, they happen too frequently in real life too.
In 2014, there were about 65,883 accident cases on Malaysian roads involving car drivers and motorcyclists, based on statistics revealed by the Bukit Aman Traffic Unit. This was at least 5.4 percent higher than the 62,519 cases recorded in 2013.
And as if the numbers are not worrying enough, the real hair-raisers are the intertwining factors involved in fatal crashes in Malaysia.
Speaking to Cars, Bikes & Trucks after launching its driving simulator and instrumented vehicle testing laboratory, Miros director general Professor Dr Wong Shaw Voon highlighted some of the most common causes of road accidents deduced from extensive researches and studies conducted not only by the organisation but other agencies as well.
“Different modes of transport pose different risks. Accidents are bound to happen no matter how you travel – whether on foot, a bicycle, motorcycle, in a car, bus or even an airplane. The key word here is “momentum”, which takes into account the mass of a vehicle and its velocity.
If we were to compare the risks carried by a moving motorcycle, car and truck, a motorcyclist will suffer the most in a collision. On the other hand, you have a bus which carries more passengers and given its size, for instance, if it hits a smaller vehicle, the latter will suffer more damages.
Then again, such an issue is quite subjective. If an accident were to involve an airplane or buses – both with greater passenger densities – more lives will be affected or lost. But generally speaking, motorcyclists are the most prone towards road accidents.”
- Road constraints
“When discussing road crashes and fatalities, we try to focus on making our roads “safer” instead of “safe”. There are just too many constructions going on and even the designs of urban infrastructure can be considered obstructions and contribute to accidents.
In terms of constraints, I can give you an easy example – why can’t we have extended road lanes going up to Cameron Highlands? It’s easy, we just can’t, because we need to go uphill. And because certain roads leading to difficult places are not smooth or straight – and the situation is compounded by sharp corners or edges – there is a need to travel at safe speeds. That is exactly why speed limits are set.”
- Driver behavior, attitude and human error
“Let’s ask ourselves this – how long can we humans stay focused on the road?
It is impossible to control or determine the actions and reactions of other drivers but as the driver of your own vehicle, you are in full control. You may own a car which achieved full safety ratings and may drive on the “safest” roads, but at the end of the day, you will need to drive within the limits of your own vehicle.
Another bad habit of Malaysian drivers is that we tend to misuse our signal lights. Turning on the hazard light at inappropriate times or making turns without signalling left or right can be very risky.”
- Distracted driving
“You’d be surprised that those huge billboard advertisements that you see along the roads can easily distract drivers. Looking or staring at interesting imageries can cause one to lose focus.
Interestingly, simple gestures and innocent actions such as eating, chatting with the rest of your passengers and even smoking can lead to road mishaps, but very rarely. I personally believe that listening to music can also cause one to crash. But others may argue that if a vehicle cabin is too silent, there is a high chance of falling asleep behind the wheel, which is even worse.
Another thing that we highly discourage is using a hands-free phone while driving. Think about it this way, there will be a tendency to have longer conversations, which then leads to mental distraction.”
- Convoys and illegal racing
“Bike convoys, especially, are more prone towards crashes. Although Miros does not have any official statistics on crashes involving large-capacity motorcycles, our observation is that big bikes and superbikes are more susceptible towards accidents.
Granted that these riders are travelling at very high speeds and slam on the brakes in emergency situations, the distance between their vehicles and those around them will become shorter. Thus, the risk of a fatality will be higher.
The situation is reversed for professional drivers and riders, however. These people have the training and skills, and their vehicles come with the appropriate technology and safety features. Also, we must remember that some highways and roads are not built or designed for motorcycles. So always practice precaution and travel as safe as possible.”
- According to data obtained from the Bukit Aman Traffic Unit, there were about 12,761 cases of road accidents involving big-capacity motorcycles in 2014.