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Where’s the push to end carnage on the roads

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 22 February 2015

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LETTER FROM LEE
In the first of his articles for Motorme.my, National Road Safety Council member, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, asks if the country wants the culture on death on the nation’s roads and highways to continue exacting a high toll on the country’s most important asset — the young people.

IT is easy to talk about safety but is everyone committed to it?

Very often safety does not mean a thing until a tragedy strikes by which time it is too late to make amends.

Despite numerous road safety campaigns and publicity programs, road tragedies still continue to occur with children and young ones in their prime being “massacred” on the roads.

What is even more tragic is when an entire family is wiped out in a fatal crash. The pain, suffering and agony in any tragedy is just too hard to bear, especially by the loved ones.

Malaysia’s roads and highways are very prone to accidents with fatalities hovering around six to seven thousand cases yearly.

Statistics revealed by the Traffic Branch of the Police at Bukit Aman indicated that 476,196 road accidents were reported in 2014 as compared to 477,204 accidents in 2013, while in respect of road deaths the figures recorded were 6,624 in 2014 as compared to 6,915 in 2013.

Take for example the just launched “Ops Selamat” .

In just five days after Ops Selamat 6 was launched to enforce road traffic safety, 85 people perished in accidents nationwide.

Motorcyclists and pillion riders made up most of those killed at 62 percent or 55 deaths.

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Currently at 3.05 deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles, a reduction to two deaths or less per 10,000 registered vehicles is necessary to match the rates of developed countries.

An important dimension that needs to be addressed is the high contribution of motorcyclists to the road accident statistics. More than 62 percent of the deaths are motorcyclists.

Road accidents are avoidable if one has embraced the safety culture, truly cares for road safety and values one’s life and that of their loved ones.

Many drivers are aware of the many road safety campaigns; they realise the hazards on the road, yet they react differently when they are driving, putting their lives and others at risk when they treat our expressways and roads as Formula 1 race tracks.

This is further aggravated by overloaded lorries and trucks plying our expressways with scant regard for safety. Due to poor law enforcement and lack of integrity overloading of commercial vehicles has become a major problem along our Expressways.

The thought of safety is absent when our drivers are on the road. They forget they must take due care of themselves, their loved ones and other road users.

It is the attitude that must be changed if we want to see fewer accidents – the attitude of impatience and “haste culture” speeding and weaving in and out of traffic lanes. And this is one of the major contributing factors leading to road accidents.

The fact is that there are people who have not learnt from the gruesome pictures of mangled vehicles, dead bodies, groaning victims and their grieving families.

Road safety campaigns, though necessary, will not work unless road users learn to observe basic rules on safety and courtesy and change their irresponsible and cavalier attitude while on the roads.

Poor road conditions and shortcomings in road engineering and construction may cause accidents and this has to be addressed by the relevant authorities.

The economics costs of road accidents to the nation is an estimated RM9 billion deaths, medical bills, repairs and insurance payouts.

And it has been identified through studies that more than half of road accidents involved those between the ages of 18 and 40 who are the most important human asset.

NIOSH views with utmost concern the frequent reports of road accidents, fatalities and injuries which are not only tragic to the families involved but also a loss to the nation’s workforce.

Traffic-related motor vehicle crashes is one of the leading causes of work-related injuries and deaths. Furthermore commuting accidents also make up a significant percentage of industrial accidents reported to Socso yearly.

According to Socso, the total number of commuting accidents reported yearly had increased from 18,387 cases in 2002 to 27,659 cases in 2013, an increase of 50.4 percent.

Employers and employees must take cognisance of these serious statistics and be prepared to address the issue with a view towards reducing the number of commuting accidents.

In particular, employers have a duty to protect their employees and other road users by adopting the approach of managing occupational road risk in order to reduce business losses which arise from “at work” road accidents.

In this connection, employers have a role to play in developing and implementing comprehensive safety procedures and programmes for the workplace to reduce accidents, deaths and injuries including providing training to their employees to be competent drivers and riders.