OK, before I start rambling, I think I find the need to remind my friends that I am never good when writing on issues afflicting the people of this country. Most of the times I allow my emotion to get the better of me and then just scrap off the whole damn thing. But this issue keeps getting on me and I just can't get over it.
It started off with the new ruling for backseat passengers to belt up some week or 2 back. One of the reasons for the new ruling is to prevent back seat passengers not wearing seat belts have a higher fatality rate than those who do, as a study by miros have supposedly shown. Fine, if its all meant for real concern towards the safety of Malaysians, I guess no one can argue about it. Then I heard on the radio that the authorities will be giving a grace period of 3 months before taking any action. That, caused my mind to think of the many Malaysian families with a size of 6 people, and insufficient income to purchase a second car - how will they be traveling to a simple once-a-month dinner outside, which maybe the only outing the family can afford? It may seem a trivial matter, but I believe it will be one that leads to many more cases of 'duit kopi' being passed around, if you get my drift.
Look, if the authorities are really concerned about the fatalities in road accidents, I personally think they are looking at it from the wrong angle. Foremost on the list should be the engineering of the road itself. There have been many times where mishaps and near it happen simply because a driver tries to avoid a deep hole on a major road. It happened to me once on the MRR2! Driving at night and on the fast lane, I could did not notice the hole and had both left rims dented! But if I had noticed the hole and tried to swerve to the left, I would have definitely more than gaze the car on that lane.
Then there's the mentality of the drivers themselves - people who drives slow on the fast lane, and fast on the slow as well as emergency lane. People who puts the signal to change lane, and affect the change at the very same time, not giving a damn whether the car behind has time to notice the signal. It happened to me on the Federal Highway where I was on the fast lane. Just in front and in the middle lane were 2 cars which I had intended to pass. But as I was about a few meters behind the 2nd car, the driver puts out her right indicator and at the same time tried to pull into my lane. I had to jam my brakes and at the same time honked loudly at her. How did that driver get her license? Under the table, perhaps.
Have the authorities conducted sufficient campaigns on road safety? I don't mean those run-of-the-mill RTM slots where even children get bored watching. But hang on, they were these 10 second bursts which I must admit, were good and effective as far as I can note. But where are they now, and why shown only on RTM? Why not Astro, the Media Prima stable, and even the private radio networks, shown as Public Message System (PMS)? Undoubtedly PMS are screened without charge by the private networks. But for every second a PMS is screened, the network gets to deduct the cost from the licensing fee they pay to Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia. And that, can be quite an amount! Why are these not put into effect?
Now, this may sound like a zany idea: how about running a Road Safety Campaign using the platform of reality TV show? Think about it. If shows like Survivor and so on so on can draw a huge audience, why can't a safety campaign with huge winning purse? Before I continue, I should stress here that some high-end car producers and main resellers, do provide for safety driving classes for their buyers. These classes known as Defensive Driving, do attract quite a large number.
Back to the Road Safety reality show, the preliminary rounds can begin with simple road rules. One would be surprised to find that many drivers either do not know, or have forgotten the simple rules like reading road signs. Then, as the level progress, so too would the difficulty of the questions and hurdles - what's that show where contestants go in pairs searching for clues all over the world? Well, that bit can be incorporated here as well! More? Well, any producer worth his salt should be able to pick up from here.
With a winning purse of RM1 million and a knock-out system like Survivor where even the audience play a role in deciding survivors - why not? when apart from road rules, ethics and driver personalities can play some part - this show would not only give its value in entertainment, but would also impart knowledge and inculcate good driving habits!
My point here is simply this: have the authorities done enough to educate the public via campaigns and what not, that they now decide to give summons to people for mishaps which may the fault may not even be theirs in the first place? As it is now, I can see the majority of those people coming from the middle to lower income group, where traveling for a family of 6 in an SUV or MPV may be a luxury they cannot afford! Have not these people enough to think of already that you now burden them with illegal taxes, because that sure as hell is the way I think the new ruling is. If any, its the authorities who should buckle up on their work!
By the way, by chance that a new reader or 2 might think I fear the ruling for my own. Then know that I do not have a family of my own to worry about currently. These are my thoughts for the people who do, and my heart goes out to them. Damn you authorities!