Since the year 2003, the number of fatalities due to road accidents in Malaysia
has consistently been above 6,000. Between 2004 and 2013, the death of 65,850
people in road accidents had resulted in as much as RM78 billion being lost in
economic contributions with an average of RM1.2 million each. This trend is not
only obvious in our nation but in other countries too. A WHO report claims that
road accidents take the lives of nearly 1.3 million every year and injure 20 to
50 million more in the world, with India, along with China, listed among
countries with the highest number of deaths. Even in the United States, road
accidents are on the rise - someone is killed in a road accident every 10
seconds! What is tragic is that most of these accidents could have been easily
Over 95% of road accidents involve some degree of driver behavior
combined with other factors. Drivers always try to blame road conditions,
equipment failure, poor road maintenance or other drivers for those accidents.
When the facts are truthfully presented, however, the behavior of the driver is
usually the primary cause. Most are caused by excessive speed or aggressive
driver behavior. Therefore, while I agree that rash driving is the cause of most
accidents, other factors should also be considered.
With more people in today's fast-developing world owning personal vehicles,
the number of people driving recklessly, without heeding road conditions and
pedestrians on the road, has increased. People, especially younger drivers, tend
to speed with alarming frequency on highways and through residential areas,
school zones and urban streets. What they do not realize is that the faster you
drive, the harder it is to stop, making the potential for disaster greater.
Combined with speed is recklessness. Some people blatantly disregard the traffic
regulations that make our roads safer. They sneer at the rules of the road and
exhibit a sense of power when driving. Many of them also show aggressive driving
tactics, such as changing lanes without signaling.
On top of these two behaviors, driving under the influence of alcohol and
drugs is also on the rise. Youth aged 17 to 29 are the most common culprits and
victims of such accidents. A drunken driver cannot perform his task without risk
and would endanger traffic safety as alcohol affects the central nervous system
of the driver. Even at a level of 0.05 per cent alcohol in blood, the sense of
judgment is impaired and the ability to control steering is affected. Similarly,
drugs like marijuana can affect a driver's perception and his ability to drive.
The driver drives rashly, usually ending in disaster.
Nevertheless, accidents on the road can also be due to road conditions and
poor road maintenance. Highway maintenance is very important. When many roads
exhibit unsafe conditions like potholes, uneven pavement and various other types
of defects, serious road accidents can take place. The best to do is to be wary
and keep a lookout for such defects.
Drivers who pay little attention to the condition of their vehicles too, can
be blamed for causing accidents. Brake failure, poor tyre condition and blown
light bulbs, especially when traveling at night, can also result in vehicles
going out of control.
Another cause of accidents that is of increasing concern now is the use of
mobile phones. Even a hands-free mobile phone or the use of Bluetooth technology
does not guarantee that an accident would not occur when chatting on a mobile
phone and driving. These drivers are four times more likely to cause an
accident. Besides this, children, animals and construction sites often distract
individuals as much as any mobile phone use. We are only human and it can be
near impossible to keep our attention on the road when a child in the car is
pulling his sister's hair. If the issue requires discipline, it is best to stop
at a rest area.
Despite numerous safety measures and tighter laws, accidents continue rising.
What is sad is that the brunt of rash driving and drunk driving is faced by
pedestrians, cyclists or people traveling in lighter vehicles. The road crashes,
which cause grief and suffering for the family members of the deceased and the
injured, also result in economic losses to victims, their families and nations
as a whole. The only way to reduce this is through education. As most accidents
are caused by rash driving, drivers, especially youth, should be made aware of
their responsibility when on the road. Thus, we should always be aware of other
motorists and pedestrians around us when driving.