Road safety lies in the hands of the user and its condition is not always the problem

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing.

by Remaung Bukit

Authorities points their fingers towards reckless and irresponsible driving when it comes to road accidents.

But little studies or none on drink driving is made as of now.

Police Crime Prevention and Community Safety Department Senior Assistant Commissioner Shafie Ismail today said there is a slight decrease in accident cases between January till May this year citing that road safety awareness as the contributor.

Statistics shows, 7,752 accidents reported in the period this year, a 3.8 percent decrease from last year’s total of 8,055 cases.

From that number, there are 137 deaths reported as compared to 165 deaths last year.

While 95 peopler were reported to have serious injuries this years, compared to last year’s 102.

Shafie however, could not say much on drink driving other than to advice drivers who had too much alcohol to refrain from driving.

“If they plan to drink a lot it is best that they assigned a designated driver who is sober and fit to drive them home. If not, it is best for them not to drive any vehicle. Not only it is for their own safety but also to other road users,” said Shafie at the launching of Op Selamat Gawai Dayak 2017 at KM60 Kuching-Serian road today.

The Road Transport Department introduced the Kejara demerit system nationwide last month and Transportation and Infrastructure Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing wants it to be tweaked to suit the situation in Sarawak.

Suggesting higher penalty for drink driving should be imposed here.

“I believe drink driving is quite rampant here. The present system only penalises 15 points for driving under the influence. I proposed this points to be higher here to ensure those who are not fit to drive to stay off the wheel. With their state of mind and their presence on the road, they risk the life of other law abiding road users,” said Masing when met by

The ministry is gathering inputs from Sarawak Road Transport Department specifically on areas that need to be enhanced, and found that supporting infrastructures such as cameras, breathalysers and patrolling units amongst others in Sarawak needed to be strengthened to make the system more effective.

“Presently in the Peninsula, they have cameras that only capture vehicle car plate numbers. As a result, owners of the vehicles have to identify the drivers who committed the traffic offences. This may lead to the actual driver paying others with no or few points who are willing to take the blame for the offence,” said Masing.

Among those proposed includes, fixed cameras to be installed at strategic locations, moving cameras deployed at different places at different hours, increasing the presence of Traffic Police and personnel of relevant agencies on the road as ‘deterrent’.

With more and more motorists having individual camera installed on their dashboards, Masing said the government is not rulling out the possibility of setting up a Facebook page where motorists are encouraged to post videos of errands drivers, and based on the clarity and details provided by these videos, the errand drivers could be penalised or given summons accordingly.

“This kind of Citizen Watch Concept is already being practiced in Singapore. The videos uploaded could be drivers cutting into solid lines illegally, or motorists driving against traffic direction or motorists doing an illegal U turn at traffic lights, offences which are so common today.”

Masing said that his Ministry will take into account of input from all relevant agencies, authorities and experts before submitting his Sarawak’s own version of the Kejara system.

Regardless of all these and numerous road safety campaigns, the person behind the vehicle still plays and important role to preserve the lives of other road users regardless of where they are.

While the infrastructure condition is only a fraction of the problem.