This is necessary after the recent revelation by our Transport Ministry and Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) that the estimated cost of road accidents in the country amounted to RM9.21 billion last year, an increase of RM581.3 million over 2015.
The research also showed that 7,152 people were killed in 521,466 road accidents last year and the death rate due to road accidents rose slightly to 2.59 persons for every 10,000 registered vehicles compared with 2.55 in 2015.
It is also sad to know that based on several studies many road accidents were due to human factors like recklessness and negligence. It is time to view the matter seriously and take steps to reduce the number of accidents and to significantly make our roads safer again.
To bring the number of road accidents down, we must first realise that the road is not a place where we can take things easy.
By now, we must and should accept the reality that not everyone should be allowed on the road.
Only those with a certain degree of right mindedness, reasonableness, and emotional stability should be allowed to possess a driving licence.
The relevant authorities must review existing laws and propose amendments to ensure that only those competent to drive can should be allowed on the road.
The Road Transport Act 1987 (Act 333) the governs all motor vehicles and includes provisions to assure the quality of road users.
Section 29, for example, deals with the test of competency to drive, and Section 30 covers the physical fitness of applicants for driving licences. However, with the latest revelation on the number of road accidents, the government must review all provisions and tighten the process to obtain any vehicle licence.
A more comprehensive and thorough check on the applicant’s background must be conducted to ensure the applicant has the right criteria to become a safe road user. Such checks must also include detailed examination of the applicant’s mental and psychological background.
Although this will put an extra burden on those applying for their first licence it is a positive step to ensure that future road users are mentally fit and treat road safety as their top priority.
Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow Faculty of Syariah & Law Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia