Home Media statements 2010 Media Statements Licence to kill … yourself?

Licence to kill … yourself?

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Double 0 Seven looks at our culture of instant food and draws a parallel to the making of instant experts (or so they think) on the road, which could help explain the horrific road accidents we hear about.

The popularity of convenience food e.g. instant noodles, instant porridge, and instant cake mixes, seems to have evolved into a culture in our daily lives. It used to be a last resort but has become a daily necessity in our time-conscious lives. This fast food, quick-fix culture apparently has also contributed to the making of instant experts.

What are the advantages of becoming an instant expert? Firstly, the instant expert feels good about being called an expert and thinks he/she can operate in unlimited circumstances and has unlimited licence to act as s/he wishes. Moreover, the persons in need of ‘expert’ assistance can now have unlimited and unhindered access to an ‘expert’.

But how good are these ‘instant-out–of-a–package’ experts? Let’s take a young school-leaver who is learning to drive. This young potential ‘expert driver’ learns the traffic code and driving manoeuvres in theory by reading up a book. Then he or she is given practical lessons on the road or in a specified place to get the feel of the car and learn to coordinate the foot pedals, make emergency manoeuvres, park, navigate and generally operate the car – all in 10 short weeks. The basics now over, the potential expert driver is now ready to take the road test. If successful, s/he’ll be permitted to join the billions of expert drivers on the countries highways and by-ways.

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It is unclear how much emphasis is placed during the initial driving lessons on road safety as well as consideration for pedestrians, people with disabilities, elderly road users and others. Like sex education in schools, which was under discussion a few weeks ago, the issue of taking responsibility for one’s actions doesn’t seem to have been conveyed to these new drivers, breeding bad driving habits that are hard to kick.

Frequently, inexperienced new drivers get the impression that a driving licence is the ticket to absolute freedom to act according to impulse on the road. There is nothing to prevent them from ‘trying out’ Father’s MPV or older brother’s high-powered turbo-engine on a narrow crowded street or highway, forgetting that other road users exists.

Feeling powerful behind the steering wheel, they may be unable to resist the temptation to show off. Moreover, from an elevated viewpoint, they may think they see everything or that other road users should see them and give-way. No thought is given to traffic regulations, safety rules, courtesy or consideration for other road users – or even their own safety.

Unfortunately, it is not only rookie drivers who seems to lack a sense of responsibility, so-called experienced drivers (who were rookies a while ago) seem to assume that breaking road rules is perfectly all right. The purpose of these rules had not been brought home to them; thus the bad and dangerous driving habits are passed on from generation to generation of supposedly expert drivers. The mentality is such that too many raja jalan exists to menace our roads in this day and age.

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Traffic accidents these days seem more horrific and callous. Old people crossing busy roads are run-down and killed by hit-and-run drivers. Children have been dragged and killed under buses driven by negligent bus-drivers. I received an email recently with pictures of a young man (possibly in his 20s) who had been literally cut in half when his car drifted over the middle-line and collided with a HGV. Naturally, the lorry driver was unhurt.

The accident was allegedly due to the young man’s own carelessness, driving without due care and attention. What was he doing when his car drifted into the lorry’s path? He was allegedly sending an sms at the time of his death. He died with his eyes open in an expression of utter disbelief and shock. The extraction of the two halves of his body from the wreckage of the car must have been a difficult one for the “Bomba” rescuers. Was the text message – if the email was correct – more important at that moment than his life, I wonder?

It was a useless and purposeless death simply due to his failure to think before acting. Is this how much we value ourselves? Think about it.

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The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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