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Lawlessness on our highways must stop

If we do not do something drastic, we will be known the world over as the most dangerous road users

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Lawlessness is visible on our highways in many places, day and night, as an endless stream of vehicles fills our roads.

Express buses do not keep to the left anymore. Instead, they often speed on the right lane. Heavy commercial lorries often hog the middle lane, recklessly switching lanes.

High-end and bigger cars seem to think that their machines must outperform other road users as they speed, even on rainy days, leaving a trail of spraying water.

It is strange that on a round trip to Penang and Kuala Lumpur, one sometimes does not even spot a single police patrol car.  

It is frightening that at the rate commercial vehicle drivers are beating time on our highways to earn an extra buck, soon innocent motorway users will find it nerve-wracking to drive safely.

Despite all these decades of talking about road safety, we have failed to change the payment scheme for long-distance commercial vehicle drivers and their attendants.

Fast cars are more common now than a decade ago, often engaging in high- speed ‘chases’ frequently along highways, especially at night.

When will we ever curb such dangerous road behaviour?

The police have tried road blocks, various operasi and warning, but these have not taught us much. The government has spent public money on speed cameras. But we are not too sure if such devices are in working order, as road users do not seem to care anymore.

Meanwhile, budget cuts are affecting road users. Our highways seem to have more patchwork these days. And the reflective safety demarcations on the surface are hardly reflective.

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When it rains, it gets worse given the lack of proper lighting, pools of stagnant pools and uneven roads in many places.

Perhaps Malaysian road users need the long arm of the law to change strategies.

Business operators using the highways must owe up to a long overdue overhaul in their operations.

One suggestion is for the police to implement intensive mobile police patrolling on all highways 24 hours. This may be a tall order, as the government is depleting its resources and budget allocations during these difficult economic times.

But road safety cannot wait for economic rebounds. Even during our good times, road safety was often put on the back burner.

Highway operators, road work contractors, motor vehicle insurance companies, spare parts and motor vehicle importers and manufacturers, oil and gas businesses, and all those related businesses with vested interests should converge to set up a national funding mechanism to subsidise a special mobile patrol unit nationwide, starting with the north-to-south motorway in the peninsula.

Even if all road users have to pay an additional one ringgit for their annual road tax, so be it. It will raise capital to operate an adequate mobile police patrol and give law enforcers a visible presence along our highways.

If we do not do something drastic, we will be known the world over as the most dangerous road users. Perhaps we already are.

Worse, ordinary people will not be able to enjoy safe driving along our roads.

Will our politicians stop their obsession with grabbing power, and please take a drive to experience the reality on the ground. Drive around at length, day and night, to grasp of how difficult it is to drive these days.

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Please act now. Stop pretending.

How much of revenue raised from road users goes to road safety?

According to reports, the Road Transport Department (JPJ) collected an average of over RM4bn in revenue from motor vehicles in 2018 and 2019.

Given the ever-increasing number of motor vehicles on our roads, the government raises a lot from road tax, registration and licensing services. Then there are the police and JPJ fines collected from errant motorists.

How much of this whopping revenue does the government spend on improving road safety standards on our roads?

How much is spent on road improvements such as resurfacing worn stretches, patching potholes speedily and improving drainage and street lighting?

How much of the fines collected is used for increasing law enforcement and policing our roads to make them safe for motorists?

Hopefully, our lawmakers can look into this and give motorists reason to cheer in the coming year.

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.

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Rajaretnam Nadason
Rajaretnam Nadason
10 Jan 2021 2.13pm

Enforcement ends up in fines which are accumulated for years and paid when usual discounts are offered. Malaysians seem to value time over money. So hit them where it hurts. If caught the vehicles are impounded unless a fine is paid immediately (eg China). This will stop buses and heavy vehicles speeding as time is money. Get police to patrol highways daily, if necessary, each state police patrol the highways within their state. All this requires Political will and commitment.

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