I was browsing through today's newspaper, (yes, I still do that sometimes, well, since it's provided by the clinic, why not. I wouldn't go all the way just to purchase the local papers, in case you're wondering) and my eyes caught sight of the latest death toll in "Ops Sikap Hari Raya". Actually, that's not all that my eyes was feasted upon when I glanced at The Star. For instance, there's that front page story on Hassan Ali, which I refuse to peruse for now.
After all, I had just came back from Hari Raya leave and would like to maintain a good mood, if not my sanity. Politics is not a way to maintain one's good mood, and definitely not one's sanity. (hmm...wonder if one can get away with running amok in the parliament, then later be acquitted by the court of law on the argument of "temporary insanity"). In fact, Malaysian politics can be listed as one of the causes of suicide actually. It has the same effect as what manic depression do unto people, ergo it is easy to explain the suicidal thoughts that comes naturally with reading about Malaysian politics. Of course, that is but another story.
Funny, in a non ha-ha sense of it, how after all the hoo haas by the mass media on the death toll during celebrated seasons, this year's Hari Raya death toll from motor vehicle increased by 7% hitherto ( last years record showed 134 death over the same amount of days as compared to this year's 144, and mind you, the "Ops Sikap" will be over only on the 27th September 2009). You can check it out here in the report from The Star Online and also in The Sun Daily and in NST online.
What does all this means? That despite having the technology to detect death on our roads and turn the death tolls into fancy statistic charts, we still cannot use the data to curb the problem? If you beg to differ this, then explain why is there an increment of death tolls despite the wide media coverage? Then again...who watches the mainstream media anyway, maybe that is the problem. I think we should start printing this death tolls in trash magazines and news papers like Hairan Metro ...oops..I mean Harian Metro. Then if we are lucky, the message would be sent across. I'm not very optimistic about people reading though. After all, our "Kempen Membaca" was reported as failed. They probably included porn magazines, entertainment magazines or even catalog from Giant Hypermart to mark up the statistics, yet still if failed.
It's ironic, since the death toll of the very much feared H1N1 is 77, that's nearly half less death taken from our road "system". H1N1 has been going on since April, compared to the Ops Sikap that started just days before Hari Raya. Check it out on the Kementerian Kesihatan's update on H1N1if you don't believe me. What does this mean then? That people kill people more than viruses do? So, we are our own enemies? Hmm..maybe we should all kayuh basikal balik kampung..I think it may be safer, except for those on pacemakers etc of course.
It is reported in The Star, "Up to yesterday, the three categories which registered the most fatalities were the motorcycle users (76 deaths), followed by car users (54) and pedestrians (7). Five deaths involved bicycle users, while the rest were either passengers or drivers of taxis, vans, jeeps or lorries. The number of accidents totalled 1,013 and summons were issued 4,766 offenders, police said. Municipal roads registered the highest number of accidents with 340 cases, followed by federal roads (277), state roads (225), other roads (118) and highways (71)".
Hmm...so the tolls do serve some purpose after all; slowing down traffic to decrease motor vehicle accidents, hence the decreased number of accidents compared to Municipal roads as seen in the statistical figure.
It only makes sense that the motorcyclist has the highest rate of death. I mean, think about it, when you ride a bike, you can die just by falling down on the road because your tyres skidded on a pile of sand, or spilled diesel and oil on the road, and you can die from head and neck injuries by not applying helmet properly, or because you upset some other bigger vehicles like a lorry when you fall off the road and the lorry just run through you.
I've worked in the kampung before. I've seen mothers crying by the drain just outside the mortuary because she had just lost the only child, a son, who had just took over the late father's role as the bread winner. All because he rode a motor bike without a safety helmet on. I've seen a bright student become a "vegetable", hanging on to life support when what he could be doing was completing his studies, become someone who can make a difference. I've seen mothers and fathers died leaving behind clueless little orphans. I've seen people die from ramming into an innocent lost cow, sitting on the road to obtain some warmth from the heat radiation from the road, not suspecting it had caused distress to a family of humans. And they die an accidental death. The cow is not to blame of course. On the other hand, the owner of the cow should be prosecuted for failing to keep the cow at check to avoid it becoming a nuisance, or in accident cases, accidental murderer. It is my opinion that most of the death and accidents pertaining to motorcyclists are avoidable. Unlike some potent viruses, death and accidents by motor vehicles can be avoided if not controlled to some extent.
If you get the statistics telling you the death toll is higher than the years before, then it simply means that nothing has been done that is effective. By the way, handing out summons is only effective and beneficial to ...well, I will not dare to be presumptive here, especially in regards to the police or any authorities in Malaysia for that matter, (don't want to end up jumping off some building post interrogation voluntarily or otherwise, if you catch my drift), so I'll just say, it is not really beneficial to the public. Can't help but do some mathematics with the summons. Assuming the minimum charge for a summon per person is RM30. Calculate that with the summons issued, 4766, and we get RM142,980. Wow, over 1.5 hundred thousand over a period of about 2-3 weeks. My my, that's fairly lucrative indeed, and that's my assumption of minimal amount. We all know the amount can go up to RM300 per offense. Now you do your math as to where all that money go to. You have to agree with me, that the public tends to not benefit with the summons, as proven by statistics of the present motor vehicle accident right?
I know what some people in the kampung may say, "apa boleh buat..sudah taqdir". True, one can die even during sleep, as often babies (sudden infant death or better known as SID) or old folks do. Then why bother coming up with the statistics if no one is going to pay attention to it? God gives us brains folks. It's only fair that we express gratitude to God by simply using them. If you jump down the building, voluntarily or otherwise, chances are you'll die. It's the law of probability. If you try hard enough to kill yourself, God will grant your wish.
Enough of nagging, let's get to the most important thing, "What can we do?" or even a more important question, "Are we going all out to doing what needed to be done in order to prevent unnecessary deaths on our roads?". Well, here are some suggestions, the type whereby everyone knows about it but refuse to talk about it publicly; (of course in Putrajaya's Precinct disorder)
1. Stop obtaining Kopi-O licences.
2. Stop issueing Kopi-O licences.
3. Prosecute parents who are found negligent by allowing the underaged, no licenced children to ride on the motorcycles.
4. Send traffic offenders to the Orthopedics Department wards to perform community service. Good things are likely to come out of people who spend time changing the bed pans and pampers of those motor vehicle victims, wrapped with plaster of Paris around their broken appendages and limbs clung onto some positions, some even on life support. No point sending them to jail. They may come out learning new acquired criminal skills instead. The jail can become a vocational school if you care to notice.
5. Keep a record on drivers especially those of public transportation, to ensure that their license are revoked in response to repeated traffic offense, in synchronicity within all states. Nothing doing, that they screw up in Wilayah Persekutuan, then run off to work in Kelantan, still driving school buses like a maniac.
6. Of course, the most important thing that we are still combating and need to combat even more, like tuberculosis, is the curable corruption. The question is not curing it, but rather, how willing and sincere a society is to be rid of corruption. (I will not say the word cancer because, unlike TB and corruption, most cancers have no cure). Ah yes... nothing will work when corruption is in full mode. This is prime solution to decreasing deaths on our roads. In fact, curing corruption can cure #1, #2 and #5
7. Create awareness amongst road users. I think Kursus Memandu Berhemah is more important than Kursus Perkahwinan, although both can be chaotic if not briefed to the future potential traffic or marriage offenders. Sure they have such Kursus....on papers...but reality is, there's no such thing as teaching ethics to drivers. As usual, implementation has always been the problems with Malaysians. It is more effective to when you create awareness of the importance in behaving on our roads, rather than punishing people. Some people are more willing to pay the fines, rather than behaving on our roads.
8. Educate, educate, educate. To get education does not mean becoming educated, especially when you sleep during the deliverance of education. Educated people, not necesarily a well to do bunch, will comprehend why things should be done in certain ways. In short, people will not do things because you get fined, punished or do things because there is a material reward in what they do, but they do what they do because they understand that it is the right thing to do.
9. Send all driver's license applicants for psychological evaluation or/and brain scanning before granting the driver's license. I'm serious!!
10. Upgrade the public transportation so much so that more people prefer to travel via public transportation rather than driving around. But of course this will not materialized since it would jeopardize the sales of our local cars.
11. Ram into and important influential figure or his next of kin but make sure they live to tell the tale. In Malaysia, it takes one VIP's or his next of kins, relatives to suffer a trauma or even death in order to get things sorted out.
12. Designate Karam Singh Walia to cover this phenomena. Perhaps a couple of pantun (which can put any Malays to shame) would do the trick.
13. You tell me..
So there you go....12 ways to decrease road accidents and mortality/morbidity pertaining to it.
Again, the question is not what to do, it's whether we are sincere enough to do it. Otherwise, the annual Ops Sikap will become another reality TV show.......
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