(The face behind many road safety campaign – Datuk Suret Singh of Road Safety Department. Image source: Youtube)
Dear YB Datuk
I was not sure at first, who I should address this letter to since whenever we have major accidents on the road; too many people in a high position open their mouth and want to be the champion for road safety in the country. There will be calls for stricter enforcement, others, to review the condition of the roads and vehicles but soon enough, such calls would die down and it will be back to business until the next tragedy.
Last week, I had a friend from overseas over at my house and we caught you in the news, making spot checks on express buses – you looked unhappy and seemed to be pissed off with the conditions of the buses. My friend upon seeing you told me that you looked tough, just the right person to check on whether traffic laws are followed. So, I guess, you would be the right person for me to bring up this.
In the past few months, you have been in the limelight when it comes to improving the safety of users on the road. Early this year, you even said that drivers who stop their vehicles to gawk at accident scenes can be issued summonses and there were many of us, applauded such calls. It was high time; the enforcement part of the law is strongly enforced on road offenders.
But before I proceed further, it will good if you could take a look at the below video and couple of photos (I have more in my collection, all of which, will promptly be handed over to JPJ for their action in due course).
Have you ever seen an express bus that is not only speeding above the speed limit but also using the emergency lane rather dangerously? No? Yes? All the time? Here’s one for the record – BLB 6396.
You tell me if this is how things are handled despite the recent horrific 28 deaths and during on-going Ops Sikap (which incidentally means Operation Attitude), how do you expect to reduce accidents involving public buses? Why bother having undercover JPJ enforcement agents riding along the bus?
When you have speed demons who not only endangering their life with such reckless act but also of their passengers, it will not be a big surprise to see another 28 bodies lies on the tarmac.
And to show how blatant and irresponsible people are in a place of lack of enforcement, just count the number of vehicles (including one from another country) abusing the emergency lane? Where is the enforcement of highway laws? And the video here only shows a small portion of the highway where emergency lane ended up as the “fast lane” where one probably would wonder when PLUS opened a new lane.
And Datuk, considering the field that you are in, you would understand why I have been highlighting these emergency lane offenders every time I came back from the holidays. Others may wonder why I take the trouble highlighting these “criminals” in emails, blogs, video blogs, etc. It is not like I am getting paid for it or getting some discounts or getting a kick for fun.
And I am pretty sure these offenders would have their day to answer for their inconsiderate act of “troubling” others and putting others in danger. It is rather easy to ignore the traffic that had formed on the emergency lane and just concentrate on the road ahead; hoping that the traffic jam that had formed without notice would just go away and one can be on their way without further delay, apprehension and waste of time and fuel.
I would have done the same if not for this:-
You see, in a 2 lane highway that passes by numerous exits and entries, a 3rd improvised lane is bound to create bottlenecks at some point when those who use the new lane have to cut over and return back to the proper lane (often due to police block or broken down vehicle and not because they feeling guilty about it). And there is where the problem starts for other road users. who been patiently been treading the legal lanes.
The idiots (sorry to use this word but I am sure you will share our frustrations) at the emergency lane cut into the slow lane which causes the traffic on the slow lane to slow down even further. And when the slow lane becomes slow, some of us have to contend with moving into the fast lane which ends up as another slow lane.
Ok, never mind us – we still have the legal lane to contend to but what about the people who really need to use the emergency lane. With these traffic offenders speeding through the emergency lane at speeds exceeding 100 km/h, it has become too dangerous for anyone with a broken-down vehicle to even park at the emergency lanes.
Just imagine the scenario – you hear a weird sound from your car and the sound seems to get only louder. You decided that it is not safe to continue to drive, so you pull over and stop at the emergency lane. You walk behind the car to inspect on something and you suddenly hear a screeching noise and before you know it, a car slams you and pin you between the two cars.
And of course, I don’t need to highlight the use of the emergency lane for the fire & rescue and ambulance service when there is a major accident on the highway. Just imagine the precious minutes wasted stuck behind these idiots who clog up the emergency lane for their own personal abuse. If someone dies due to delay of rescue vehicles, will these emergency lane offenders be charged with manslaughter?
So Datuk, as you can see, there is no point educating the general public on traffic rules – you only going to get traffic rules broken on a regular basis. There is no point making the necessary research on how to make the roads and vehicles safer. You are only going to waste time and money and given the conditions of the roads and vehicles in Malaysia, they are already above the condition of some countries with a lower fatality rate than Malaysia.
The only way to ensure road users abide by the rules is to improve on the enforcement of the rules. As I watched the many traffic rules offenders abusing the emergency lane as I was travelling back, my only regret is that there were no enforcement officers on sight.
There were no roadblocks, there were no traffic policemen chasing and booking these traffic offenders – too bad, we could have made the killing in the summons. There was nothing to stop the abuse. Perhaps summons has become too cheap for these frequent, hardcore traffic offenders. Perhaps getting home early was more important than being considerate and safe on the road.
Datuk, I am pretty sure you will share my concern here and I hope in the course of heading the Road Safety Department to be more efficient, you would look deeply into the area of enforcement and ways to tighten the loopholes. Change of attitude can also happen due to the thick, long stroke of the cane.
(A frustrated highway user)