THE state of road safety is disastrous yet we are not alarmed. Puspakom, the national vehicle inspection company has declared that about one-third of private vehicles have brake problems and sideslip problems.
Now when you compute the statistics of the Malaysia Automotive Association (MAA) which states that the Malaysian vehicle registration data up to June 30, 2017 has 28,181,203 vehicles on our roads, we have every reason to declare an emergency on our roads.
It means that over nine million vehicles are plying our roadways with brakes that can malfunction at any time.
Your bet is as good as mine. Even Puspakom’s free inspection offer will not get all 28 million vehicles in for the service.
And with just weeks before the holiday exodus, even Puspakom cannot manage if 10,000 vehicles showed up for the free inspection.
There are two deep-seated problems that the previous government refused to address beyond its political needs. But will the present leaders make any significant difference?
Of the two fundamental reasons, one is the actual state of the automobile spare parts racket.
The imitation and substandard automotive parts industry has escaped the government’s control.
It is highly subscribed by Malaysians who live by the philosophy “Anything cheaper will do”.
It is a business that is so huge and profitable in a market where people always look for cheaper options out of financial constraint and an unwillingness to understand, appreciate and uphold standards of road safety.
And even those willing to pay premium prices end up with cheap imitation parts unknowingly.
That is the state and truth about the Malaysian automotive spare parts business.
We know that even unreliable, retreaded tyres are a major business. Look at the number of tyre skins scattered on roads.
The second and equally difficult problem is the Malaysian mindset and attitude.
We as a nation have failed miserably in ensuring that our mindsets and attitudes are commensurate with the physical and economic progress.
Our receptivity to basic human dispositions towards safety and security is lagging far behind and is a shame for a developing country that wants to be a developed nation soon.
Look at the way we drive or ride. Look at how we beat safety standards. Look at how we cannot even eliminate the illegal, imitation, substandard auto parts industry.
That explains why the nine million over faulty vehicles on the road will probably lead to more deaths and injuries.
J. D. Lovrenciear