A call has been made to punish employers who do not ensure their employees are fit to drive their vehicles.
While countries like Britain are banning drivers for excessive speeding, in Malaysia, we continue to let them be on the road, despite repeated traffic offences.
Punish those who are not responsible
This is, of course, related to the call by Alliance of Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who proposed that the government should look into ways to punish employers who failed to ensure employees were fit to drive their vehicles.
Photo credit: thesundaily
This plea was made after the former Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research chairman asked, “Why was a person with 22 traffic summonses allowed to drive? Shouldn’t his licence be suspended or revoked?”
He was referring to the accident that killed five Universiti Sultan Azlan Shah students in Perak recently, where a trailer crashed into the car carrying the students.
Accident involving 5 students and a trailer in Perak
Photo credit: New Straits Times
“The authorities should look into banning an individual from driving (heavy commercial vehicles) if the person is a repeat offender or has accumulated several summonses,” said Lee, as reported by New Straits Times.
The trailer driver had 22 summons to his name. Of the total, 21 had been settled, including eight for speeding offences.
Another question that Lee asked was, “Why can’t the employer be held responsible? Employers should also do their part to improve road safety. Adopting a tidak apa (couldn’t care less) attitude is not right.”
He used Shell as an example of a responsible employer, as they ensured trailer drivers were well-paid, had enough rest between trips, and were trained, fit and qualified.
Road safety requires a combination of many different factors
Lee continued by saying that improved road safety requires a combination of many different factors, including road engineering, enforcement of laws and the human factor.
“Everywhere in the world, the human factor is the most important element. Therefore, apart from the driver’s attitude, we must check whether drivers have enough rest or are under the influence of unhealthy substances.”
“We must also check the stress level of drivers, especially during traffic congestion, and what causes drivers to lose concentration. Despite being told so many times, there are still drivers who use handphones while driving. I once saw a driver using his tablet while driving,” he said to New Straits Times.
Lack of enforcement also causes accidents
Lee also commented that there is a lack of solid enforcement in Malaysia, which is one reason why there are high accident rates in the country.
“We have many laws and regulations with strict penalties. But enforcement is very weak. There will be fewer accidents if people comply with traffic laws with strict enforcement,” he said.
Road safety expert Associate Professor Dr Rozmi Ismail also agreed with Lee as he said that there were enough laws on traffic offences, but enforcement was lacking.
“It is not that the laws are not a deterrent. On the contrary, our laws are almost on a par with international standards.”
“Despite having strict laws, there is an element of kesian (sympathy) in enforcement. For example, instead of sending a traffic offender to prison for failure to pay a summons, enforcers allow reduced fines instead.”
“The cycle will not stop since the younger generation will not see the laws as a deterrent,” said Rozmi, an expert in traffic psychology, social psychology, research methodology and experimental psychology.
Malaysia ranked 8th most dangerous country to drive in
Rozmi also took the opportunity to comment on the survey carried out by Zutobi – which ranked Malaysia as the 8th most dangerous country to drive in. He said the study’s findings were “scary” and inaccurate as the survey weighed the number of road fatalities.
“Unlike Western countries, one of the most common modes of transport in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia, are motorcycles. As a result, out of 10 road fatalities in the country, seven of them may involve the rider or pillion rider of a motorcycle.”
“In most Western countries, most people there drive cars and rarely use motorcycles.”
“Perhaps the government should consider banning motorcycles from roads except those in e-hailing services and others involved in delivery work after 8 pm.”