By Amira Syafiqa
Have you ever wondered why road accidents keep on appearing as prevalent topics or continue to make headlines in newspapers or the media? Who do you blame if accidents occurred had caused fatality to your beloved ones?
This issue is worth to be discussed as people are unaware that the reason behind these terrible incidents is because of the drivers’ attitude. In other words, road accidents often occurred because of the nonchalant behaviour of the drivers themselves. It can cause harm to everyone who is involved in accidents.
It is true that road accidents might happen because of the bad weather condition but it can be prevented by taking precautionary measures by road users or drivers. Road accidents issues need to be discussed as it is undeniably the most frequent damage that happened in society and people seem not to be paying attention. Consequently, it will lead to an injury of a person or damage of property. Some road accidents might result in severe injury of a person but some might cause death. Some accidents are merely seen as minor ones as the people involved are not terribly injured. Nevertheless, massive road accidents can be fatal.
Do you know that nearly a million people have been killed and three millions are severely disabled for life while thirty millions are injured in road traffic accidents every year? The Ministry of Transport stated that 7,152 people died in road accidents in Malaysia last year, registering an alarming jump from 6,706 deaths the year before. In addition, the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research had, in its 2012 research paper, predicted that the number of fatalities will increase to 10,716 in 2020.
Cases of Road Accidents
New Straits Times (26 December 2017) reported that two youths were killed and three others were terribly injured in a three-vehicle collision at Jalan Kuala Terengganu. According to the report, it was the driver’s fault that his car collided with two motorcycles but the bad circumstances such as dark, wet road and rain might had also contributed to the crash. It is dismaying to know that people get killed because of the recklessness of the drivers.
Another case of road accident involved parents and two children at Bentong, Pahang, when they were making their way back to Kuala Lumpur from Kelantan. An empty trailer, speeding from the opposite direction, hit a lorry that was carrying timber which was in front of the parents’ car. The trailer’s tyres came loose and spun to hit the car. Luckily, the parents and two children survived even though the car was completely damaged. Thus, road accidents could have robbed parents of their children, husbands of their wives and vice versa. And it might also turn children into orphans for losing the entire family members.
Another newspaper report (26 September 2018) showed a car-lorry crash where a man was killed and two others were injured in a road accident involving a Perodua Myvi and a trailer lorry. The car driver was killed on the spot while his passenger fractured his right hand. The lorry driver sustained light injuries. The trailer crashed into the Myvi when it entered the opposite lane. The Myvi driver succumbed to severe head injuries while his passenger fractured his right hand. Meanwhile, the lorry driver injured his leg.
How road accidents happened
Have you ever thought how an accident happened? And why it happened? An accident on the road can involve a variety of situations. It could be from vehicle to vehicle, a car with pedestrians, a truck with motorcycles and much more. There have been a number of recorded accidents in Malaysia with latest news as a tragedy that has shocked the nation.
Speeding and reckless driving are two significant major causes of road accidents which undoubtedly involve the driver of the vehicles. As well as the other countries in the world, the causes of road accidents in Malaysia are broken vehicles, worse condition of roads, careless driving, speeding, driving while drunk, insufficient sleep, drug effects, and many more.
Firstly, the reason for road accidents is speeding which means exceeding the limit. The driver is supposed to know the speed limit on the different kind of roads. Driving at a fast speed on the roads that we should not be speeding does not make us look cool! If there is speeding in the wrong way, there is a high possibility for the crashes to occur and it may cause fatality to other people because of the irresponsible actions of the driver.
Secondly, the crashes can happen because the drivers are driving while drunk or under the influence of alcohol. Those people who are drunk cannot drive properly and they probably will cause damage to other property. Thus, driving after drinking is the second biggest cause of accidents on the road. According to Free Malaysia Today, a data collected from 2015 showed that crashes caused by drunk-driving claimed 10,265 lives.
Other than that, using the phone while driving can contribute to the causes of road accidents. It can distract the driver from paying full attention to the road and it takes one hand off the wheel. Just two seconds of distraction while driving can be sufficient to cause an accident. As this action can cause distraction, there is a high possibility of the driver to crash into other vehicles at the front if they are using the phone while driving.
Furthermore, changing lanes without giving signal can be associated with road accidents. Signals are provided for vehicles as an indication or direction the drivers intended to move. According to Aminah Ahmed, 22, of International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), driving in fatigue and driving while having emotional pain can lead to accidents as the driver is not in a stable condition to focus on the road.
Besides, lack of vehicle maintenance can lead to road crashes. Driving unmaintained cars could possibly cause problems on the road. Hence, cars need to to be taken for regular maintenance to ensure safety while driving.
Driving in poor weather conditions is also one of the contributing factors to road accidents. According to Free Malaysia Today, between 2002 and 2012, about 1.3 million weather-related vehicle accidents occurred on the United States roads every year and the majority of them were due to haze, heavy rain, icy or wet road conditions. Over that period, fog alone was responsible for 31,385 crashes, 511 deaths, and 11,812 injuries.
How to discipline yourself while driving
General precautions and cautionary actions are, therefore, needed to prevent road accidents. The prevention by the drivers themselves is crucial as it helps to contribute to decreasing the rate of road accidents. Self-discipline in driving may be difficult to gain but try to think about the consequences that might happen if we do not follow the rules.
People would get hurt and in the worst case, it might involve a fatality. Then, what’s left for us is remorse. But we cannot rewind the time and change the situation if bad things already happened, right? As we do not want to experience this kind of feeling, it is crucial among drivers to have self-discipline to prevent accidents.
Self-discipline is the ability to control ourselves and to make ourselves behave in a particular way without requiring anyone else to tell us what to do. Self-discipline will encourage drivers to drive safely all the time.
It is for the driver to apply the rules and regulations on the roads. If the rules and regulations are made obligatory for all drivers to prevent any harm that could happen while driving on the roads, then why can’t we adhere to the rules? It is the easiest way to follow. Do you want to be fined with a huge amount of money just because you do not adhere to the rules on the roads? That would be such a huge waste.
For instance, any driver should not drive in lanes that are in the opposite direction. There are signboards depicted at the side of the roads as an indication for the drivers. For example, a sign that refers to the steep road at the front can make the drivers aware that it is dangerous to drive at fast speed. Thus, adhering to the rules and regulations can prevent menace and save lives.
As speeding is the most common reason for accidents to occur, drivers should know the speed limit on different kind of roads. When there is a narrow or steep road, they should drive at a slow speed. Drivers play a role in minimising car accidents by maintaining constant speed as well as leaving a safe gap between their vehicles and other vehicles. If they break the rules, there is a higher possibility for accidents to occur. Hence, the drivers need to be concerned about speed when driving especially those who drive heavy vehicles like trucks, buses and lorries as they carry lots of loads that may cause imbalance to their vehicle.
Moreover, the seatbelt should be put on while driving. What is the function of the seat belt if we do not use it as a safeguard of our body? This is highly vital, as wearing a seat belt would reduce the chances of road accidents. Wearing a seat belt does not only involve the driver but also for the passengers including adults and kids.
A seat belt might seem insignificant, but it can save one’s life. The force and sudden movement on collision can fatally injure a person’s ribcage, lungs and heart that crashed against the dashboard or steering wheel or it can fling the drivers out of the car if they’re not strapped in.
One of the major causes of car crashes is drunk driving. It happens when a driver uses a car or vehicle while being under the influence of drugs or alcohol that may lead to mental as well as motor skills imparity. Many of the fatal accidents happened because of drunk driving.
However, drunk driving is completely preventable. The driver only needs to refrain from getting drunk or being under the influence of drugs while driving. Also, they probably can use Grabcar to go home rather than driving by themselves which is risky and dangerous. Not only alcohol can cause bad health but it can also cause danger to other people.
Avoiding the use of a smartphone while driving is crucial as it is a major distraction for the drivers. No matter how urgent it is, the smartphone should not be used while driving because drivers will not pay full attention to the road and there are high chances of crashes as their eyes are on the smartphone, not the road. Intersections are considered a prime cause for many road accidents.
Hence, special care must be taken when proceeding through intersections by looking left, then right, and then again the left side to ensure that the area is absolutely clear.
Most importantly, drivers need to provide signals if they want to change the lanes. What is the function of signals if they are not used by the drivers? Giving signals is important as it can give notice to other drivers when they intend to change the lanes. “People who do not give signals while driving is one of the biggest problems I faced,” Aminah Ahmed said. She added that “this act has a high possibility for accidents to occur”.
Apart from these, the driver needs to have a clear idea on road conditions. This would be highly beneficial when they drive during wet season. To take a safety step, the driver should not drive during bad weather condition as it is too hazardous. Lastly, it is important for drivers to ensure that their vehicles are in good condition before using it. For instance, checking the tyres, brakes and mirrors to make sure that the car can be used safely.
Road accidents are difficult to be completely prevented but precautions can be taken to reduce the rate of road accidents. As most of the major causes involving road accidents include ignorant behaviour of drivers, they ought therefore to play a role in averting terrible accidents by developing self-discipline when using the roads.
Studies have depicted that road accidents have been caused by human factor, not vehicle or poor road or weather condition. If a broken car can be fixed, and if a poor road condition can be mended, surely bad attitude and behaviour among drivers can also be corrected for the sake of safety. ***