Making sense of driving habits

17 Jul 2018 / 20:39 H.

    SOCSO was reported to have paid up to RM800 million each year as compensation to workers who had met accidents during their daily commute.
    Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the number of deaths caused by commuting accidents is among the highest in the world.
    There are so many issues in this but I'm going to tackle my favourite topic first; namely, commuting, traffic and drivers. Personally, I am wondering if urban Malaysians are becoming so desensitised as to how bad traffic is, and how inconsiderate and angry drivers are in cities.
    We already know the ripple effect of cutting queues, of recklessly weaving in and out of traffic, and of other driving behaviour that endangers the lives of motorists, and yet we continue to drive with the mentality of Third World drivers.
    Even "Third World drivers" do not exhibit the kind of road rage I have seen in the Klang Valley. In Hanoi and Delhi, where everything is helter-skelter, you never see the seething rage that some Malaysian drivers exhibit.
    The irony is that some of the worst drivers – who are reckless and inconsiderate – I am acquainted with are the same people who complain about slow public service, how backward our country is, and how "Third World" Malaysia is.
    Some of the most inconsiderate driving acts amounting to possible endangerment of other motorists have been committed by people driving with children, or cars boldly proclaiming "Baby on board".
    Not only are these people not interested in their children's welfare, they are teaching them how to be angry and not care for other road users.
    Aside from private road users, I need to mention drivers belonging to corporations. For example, in my apartment block lives a man who drives a lorry for a logistics company. He is drunk so often that people have complained to the management about his behaviour.
    No prizes for guessing that he drinks and drives as well. Once he parked his lorry alongside some cars within the compound of the apartment and fell asleep. It didn't help that my friend was about to back his car out when this guy parked right behind him.
    I stand by my view that Malaysian urbanites drive unsafely and I am not surprised that our statistics for accidents are among the highest in the world.
    Kulasegaran was reported to have said that there was a 75% increase in commuting accidents from 2008 to 2017. Last year, Socso received 69,980 accident reports, of which 47% were commuting accidents. Fatalities from commuting exceeded industrial accidents; 667 deaths compared with 257 respectively.
    The minister compared our statistics with Germany, where the number of deaths from commuting accidents was four in 100,000, while Malaysia it was 25 in 100,000 last year. He was reported to have credited Germany's road safety record to its advanced public transport system.
    I'm not sure improving our public transport system will decrease accidents while commuting if we transpose the lack of civility and civic-mindedness from the road to mass public transport systems.
    Or could we possibly exercise some degree of consideration and "first world" mentality on the trains and carriages on our commute to work? If so, why can't we do the same while driving? Call me cynical, but I'm not convinced.
    My own thoughts are that the job lies more in the hands of the parents to teach their children by example, and also the education system. If we drive like lunatics, our children will do so also, provided they live long enough to get their drivers' licence.
    Daniel has a passion for health, fitness, sleep and travel. Comments:

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