Festive Road Accident and Our Attitude

With tragic predictability, every year brings us several particularly horrendous road accidents. Every festive season, with thousand of people returning home or going to holiday resorts, in spite of reminders and advice about being patient in jams, there is a cacophony of crash, bang, groan. For a few days the loss is covered in all the media; graphic pictures of mangled heaps of metal arousing interest, concern and pity.

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive". This is a sentiment that hundreds of thousands of Malaysians who will soon begin the mass exodus to their home towns for Chinese New Year celebration may not share. Since they would prefer to arrive at their destinations to celebrate the festive day with their family and friends, they should not lose sight of the need not only to get there in good time but also in good shape. The hope of a safe trip home has been dashed too often for many others for them to be in too much of a hurry to arrive. To the anguish of many a waiting parent, sibling or relative, the end of the journey of their loved ones during the holy celebrations has not been the family home but the village graveyard.

As hundreds of thousands of Malaysians are on the roads either joining in the annual exodus for their traditional balik kampung before festive day, making their open house calls or holidaying, safety should be uppermost in their minds. Very often safety does not mean a thing until a tragedy strikes, by which time it is too late to make amends.

While it is heartening to see Malaysians of all races, religions and creeds celebrate the ongoing festivities in the true Malaysian spirit, one cannot help but be concerned at the number of fatalities on our roads. Since 1998, the police have made it a point to launch annual road safety campaigns during the festive seasons to curb accidents.

Depressingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of the road crashes are attributed to human behaviour. Despite the relentless rise in the statistics, the importance of safety has yet to sink into the heads of motorists. Many drive as though life's a beach with the breeze blowing in one's face (due to the breakneck speed) and the whole world at one's speed. With a reckless attitude towards road safety, there are no safe havens on our highways and by-ways. No amount of vehicular engineering quality will prevent the occurrence of crashes if motorists persist in flouting the very rules that are enacted to ensure their safety. Acts of goodwill on the roads are a rarity.

We have often heard that Malaysians are very polite and soft-spoken people, except when they get behind the wheel. I believe this has a lot to do with the attitude of our drivers/road users.

Why is it that seemingly docile people are transformed into road-hogging, foul-mouthed, speed fiends once they get behind the steering wheel of a car? Can a mild-mannered person turn into an obnoxious bully when he gets behind the wheel of a car? Is it bad attitude, stress, poor choice of route, or just irreverence for the value of life that turns a rational person into a maniacal motorist?

The authorities are driven to greater efforts in enforcing traffic rules. Then, as in the nature of things, people forget about being careful or courteous and they are tearing down the roads and highways of the country again. Why do people need bloody examples to make them pause in their daredevil ways? And why can't the pause be extended so that safe driving or riding is a matter of course rather than a momentary slowing down because the law is cracking down?

Nobody wants to be involved in an accident, but when you see the reckless display on the road disguised as driving, there's no surprise why the accident figures in the country are alarming. I dare say more people die on the road everyday during festive seasons than there are illegal racers on the road. Many accident victims are motorcyclists. As cars drivers, we understand the authority's call to be wary of motocyclists and to be considerate for them.

Although many people know that it is fool-hardy (if not downright dangerous) to speed, available statistical evidence should persuade even the more venturesome (if also more irresponsible) drivers and motor-cyclists not to throw simple caution to the wind. For their own safety and others' on the road, the speedsters should pump their adrenalin on a proper race track rather than the expressway. To help avert mishaps or reduce accidents, motorists have been advised to recognise the appropriate speed at which they will be able to cope with accident-prone situations. This entails self-knowledge as well as a sound appreciation of one's driving ability. It also entails a proper road users as well as a keen awareness of prevailing road conditions. The latter considerations, including the actual constraints of the environment, should dictate the need for a margin of safety (allowing room for manoeuvre).

We have been carrying out Ops Sikap for many years now. This month, we will have another Ops Sikap for the Chinese New Year balik kampung rush. Although the maximum fine of RM300 will be imposed for five serious traffic offences committed during the "Ops Sikap" road safety campaign (i.e., exceeding the speed limit, jumping queue, beating traffic lights, driving on the emergency lane and overtaking at double-line stretches), the number of fatalities keep on increasing. What have we learnt so far? Is the Ops Sikap has been a failure?

My advice to all motorists, please embrace safety as our culture and way of life, check our vehicle before trip, exercise patience, stay alert, be cautious along dangerous stretches and don't ever think that accident only happen to others.

Please change your attitude if you don't want to be in the statistic.


  1. very helpful and eye opening article, how come authorities are not concerned and not taking any precautionary steps to stop these road accidents. they should be made aware that maintaining road safety is the first thing that should be kept in mind.A driver's behavior causes many accidents; still others are caused by mechanical failure or road conditions. There are technical solutions that are available to help with these problems and have contributed to a decline in the death rates caused by automobile accidents. They include proximity monitors that let a driver know how close they are to the vehicle ahead; sobriety detectors, that measure the amount of alcohol that a driver has consumed and drifting monitors that alert a driver when his or her car drifts too far to one side of the road or the other. thus driver is alone not to be blamed

  2. The other noticeable cause of accident is speeding. Bad weather and roads can also lead to an accident.

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