Handling road accidentsPOSTED BY CBT Team ON 17 July 2014
By YS Chan
The video showing a 30-year old woman using a steering lock to repeatedly hit the car of a 68-year old man had gone viral.
But such incidents will continue to occur as long as motorists do not know how to manage anger or learn how they should react after a collision.
Families and societies that do not recognise fury as a sign of weakness easily get angry. They do not realise that when others are in the wrong, it does not confer them the right to be rude.
After an accident occurs, there is no need to start a blame game. If the damage is minor, it is up to one party to offer compensation and the other to accept.
If no agreement is reached, then both parties would have to put up with the inconvenience of making a police report.
It can involve more than one trip to the station to submit documents or meet up with the investigating officer.
The party at fault may have to pay a compound fine of up to RM300 and the driver in the wrong may choose to make a police report if the other party insists on higher compensation.
One can be charged for extortion for demanding cash on the spot, such as waving a steering lock and demanding RM2,000.
When the other party is clearly at fault, it is easy to make own damage knock-for knock (OD-KFK) claim without losing the no claim discount.
Insurance companies are obliged to entertain direct third party claims for damage or loss of use but the compensation offered is usually disappointing.
In hit and run accidents, the natural response is to chase after the fleeing vehicle. This may be necessary to have a good look at the licence plate, model and colour to make a police report and claim insurance if necessary.
To go beyond that could result in something disastrous. One can be involved in or cause accidents in a high speed chase.
The consequences would be dire for forcing a fleeing vehicle to stop or go off the road. If you get down to apprehend the driver, onlookers might mistake you for a robber.
If the fleeing vehicle is damaged or driver injured, you will be sued for taking the law into your own hands.
Should a fight break out, both drivers can be badly hurt. If the other driver is much stronger, you will be mauled.
Should you beat up the other driver, you may be jailed, sued for injuries or have to constantly look over your shoulder for revenge attacks.
On a deserted stretch of road, it is totally unacceptable for a motorist to flee leaving an uninjured person unattended.
The same principle does not necessarily apply in a crowded area. The driver may think he is safe for not being in the wrong but can be assaulted by an angry mob.
Motorists should be wary of staged accidents and not get out of their cars too quickly to inspect the damage after a slight bump.
Those who cannot control themselves would become easy targets for robbers and carjackers.
Last year, my car was sandwiched in a chain collision. I had stopped behind an SUV and released the brake pedal to prevent the car from jerking forward.
The car behind could not stop on time and my car was pushed forward. The front portion caved in and had to be towed as radiator water had leaked out.
There was no discussion, much less argument, among the three drivers or five passengers as everyone was clear who was at fault and it was just an unfortunate accident.
The only person who showed anger was my four-year old granddaughter who pointed an accusing finger at the elderly driver and startled him.
The driver of the SUV was a young man. He was gracious to send my wife, daughter and granddaughter to their destination although he had to make a police report later.
As the Road Transport Department had announced the postponement of the new driving curriculum, it can now include a module on how to handle accidents, apart from avoiding it.
Too many drivers are under the impression that the party at fault must pay compensation without knowing that private settlement is just an option.
YS Chan is a veteran of three industries – automotive, travel and tours, and taxis. He started in Champion Motors in 1969 as a car and spare parts salesman and spent the next three years in Federal Auto, Tan Chong and Wearnes. After a two year stint in the life and general insurance industry, he spent the next 20 years in the Mayflower Acme tour group, leaving as its fleet and operations manager in 1992. For the next 10 years he was in the car hire industry in various management positions. In that decade, he also drove taxis for about three years to experience life as his own boss. At industry level, Chan’s held various office, from Treasurer of the Car Rental Association to Deputy Inbound chairman for the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents, and Training and Education Chairman for the Kuala Lumpur Tourism Association. He’s currently practising as a certified tourism trainer.