Deputy Transport Minister Jelaing Mersat has invited the community at large and road safety experts to find solutions to the problem of habitual traffic offenders, who he says are a main cause of road fatalities in the country.
“This group usually contributes to the rise in road fatalities in that they are either involved in the accidents themselves or are the cause of the accidents involving other innocent road users.
“For them, committing such offences on the road is a normal everyday happening, and they don’t feel they are doing anything wrong when commiting them,” he said when officiating a dialogue here on road safety organised by Shell Malaysia, in cooperation with the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS), Road Safety Department, Road Safety Council and Road TransportDepartment.
Jelaing said lack of enforcement, as well as the attitude of other road users who did not seem to care about the antics of this group of habitual offenders, had enabled the latter to continue with their offences. Some of them even feel proud to have trangressed, he noted.
He said road safety was the “responsibility of everyone, not just the government”, including individuals, family members and friends. Jelaing expressed concern over the rate of road fatalities which has been soaring annually. Last year, 6,872 road deaths were recorded, an 11.1 per cent jump from 6,188 in 2005.
Under the National Road Safety Plan 2006-2010, the government’s target is to reduce road fatalities to two per 10,000 vehicles registered by 2010.
“Although we did not achieve our target, the rate of road fatalities has dropped in the last five years to 3.4 deaths per 10,000 vehicles registered last year, from 4.18 deaths in 2005.
“In addition, the number of injuries as a result of road accidents has dropped by 39.9 per cent to 28,269 cases last year from 47,002 cases in 2005,” he said.
He did not say if this was because of better safety equipment in cars, such as more national cars being sold with airbags instead of none.
Jelaing said various steps are being taken to enforce the law better. Meanwhile, Shell Malaysia Trading Sdn Bhd managing director, Azman Ismail, said the dialogue was part of his company’s efforts to enhance road safety. He said MIROS had estimated that Malaysia suffered socio-economic losses of about RM9 billion last year as a result of fatalities at 18 per day or about 6,700 deaths annually.