PETALING JAYA: It has become a culture among our road users to break traffic laws, thinking they can get away with it.
Giving discounts on traffic summonses and lack of enforcement are the main reasons motorists break traffic rules, according to two road safety experts.
“Most road users are optimistic about their safety when breaking traffic rules, they seem to think nothing will happen to them.
“When an accident happens, no one thinks it would happen to them,” University Putra Malaysia head of road safety research centre Assc Prof Dr Lim Teik Hua told theSun.
Lim said the authorities cannot continue giving discounts to those breaking the law as it would only encourage repeat offences.
He added that people would just collect and keep their summonses until they get the discount offer.
“We need to take a two-prong approach to stop people from breaking traffic laws,” he added.
“The short-term approach should be doing away with discounts for summonses, and greater scrutiny from all enforcement agencies. The long-term approach is to teach the younger generation about the importance of road safety and (the) dangers facing those who ignore the traffic laws.
“We also need to break the cycle of bad driving habits by ensuring young motorists do not ‘inherit’ bad practices from their parents,” he said.
He believes this approach could take between 10 and 20 years for any changes to be noticeable.
Lim claims policy makers are aware of the traffic issues, but are unwilling to take the necessary steps to crack down on traffic offenders.
Statistics show that the number of road accidents in the country has gone up on a yearly basis.
In 2019, the number of accidents recorded was 567,516, but fatalities dropped from the highest figure of 7,152 in 2016 to 6,167.
University Kebangsaan Malaysia road safety expert Prof Dr Rozmi Ismail said most road users have little regard for traffic laws as they know they can get away with breaking them, or get off lightly.
He said this was happening on a daily basis at traffic lights, even at busy junctions.
“Road users will continue to break the law because they think nothing can happen to them.
“They will ignore red lights because they feel they can get away with it. They don’t realise the danger they are putting themselves and others in,” Rozmi said.
He added that there was a need to create a new normal with road users just as the Health Ministry has created a new normal for health safety.
He said today, people wear masks when going out, use the MySajahtera app and follow health protocols.
This was achieved by constantly informing the public about health safety.
“The Transport Ministry can take similar action by informing the public about the fines they face (when they break) traffic rules.
“It must be made clear that there will no longer be any more discounts for traffic offenders,” he said.
By constantly stressing on this point, people will start to pay attention and realise that breaking traffic laws will put a dent in their finances.
He said this kind of campaign must be done at all levels to get the message across to everyone.
A long-term approach would be to teach the younger generation about the importance of road safety.
Discounts for summonses and a lack of enforcement are among the main reasons motorists break traffic rules.