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Unlicensed drivers and their trail of death

 | March 29, 2017

We've heard too many stories about children driving family cars without their parents' knowledge.

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Unlicensed drivers are a bigger menace than many people realise.

In Kuala Nerang last Friday, a woman riding a motorcycle was killed after being struck by a car driven by a 16-year-old girl.

The girl had allegedly taken her father’s car without his knowledge and invited another 16-year-old to accompany her on a spin.

The car struck Lijah Mat Hashim, a 65-year-old, as she was coming out of a lane and trying to cross the road. She and her motorbike were apparently dragged for at least 21 metres before ending up in a ditch, together with the car.

Lijah, who died on the spot, leaves a husband and six grown-up children. The two teenagers, including the unlicensed driver, were taken to hospital.

The father of the driver claimed that he did not know why his daughter had taken his car without his permission. He also said she had not driven it before.

What makes him think so? This was not the first time that we’ve heard a parent denying knowledge of his child taking the family car out for a jolly. The 2010 case of Aminulrasyid Amzah comes to mind.

But then, as the recent Johor Baru cycling tragedy has shown, many parents really do not know what their children are up to. Even if they knew, they would simply shrug their shoulders and say that there was nothing they could do to force the children to stay at home.

Is the Kuala Nerang tragedy one such case?

Someone with no licence would not know how to control a car and might not be familiar with the highway code. Was this teenager speeding? Was she so engrossed in having fun with her friend that she failed to notice Lijah coming out of the lane?

What about Lijah? Did she shoot out of the lane without first stopping to ensure the road was clear? In Malaysia many kapcai riders tend to ignore basic traffic rules. Did Lijah have a licence?

It’s likely that the car was speeding. That would explain why Lijah’s body was dragged for 21 metres. Perhaps the teenager panicked and accelerated instead of braking.

In 2015, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai estimated that about seven million drivers on Malaysian roads did not have licences. Many are caught only after accidents have happened.

Is regular enforcement conducted and are unlicensed drivers punished?

We do not have all the facts concerning the Kuala Nerang accident. One or both parties could have been responsible for the crash.

The teenager’s father has asked Lijah’s family for forgiveness. Should Lijah’s husband also ask for forgiveness?

Nevertheless, parents must instil a bit of discipline into their children. If a child wants to learn to drive, pay for his driving lessons and teach him to be a responsible road user.

Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.

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