Ops Selamat 16/2020 saw 171 fatalities at the end of 11 days. The number of crashes had increased by 10% from 15,464 last year to 16,940.
The trauma suffered by family members of the injured as well as the dead is unthinkable. Road accidents bleed our country of an estimated RM9 billion annually.
Therefore, the Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) calls on the authorities to tighten the laws as well as enforcement and apply them consistently, without regard to social status.
The festive season also saw two crashes caused by drink driving. According to studies in the past, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has been worrisome.
Although the authorities have finally decided to tighten the laws on drink driving, they should take a look at the situation in Sweden, a Scandinavian country where it was once a tradition to drink to intoxication.
Today, however, Sweden has the lowest rate of alcohol abuse and drink driving in Europe, because the Swedish government defeated the drinking culture and replaced it with a culture of sober driving.
In Sweden, if a person has consumed alcohol, no matter how much, he does not drive. Full stop.
Fines are based upon how much money you have in the bank. That can really hurt and makes everyone think twice about getting behind the wheel after drinking.
Repeat offenders have their vehicle impounded and scrapped. In general, drink driving is seen as a detestable crime, and people don’t do it in Sweden.
The Swedish government has required vehicles to be fitted with devices that prevent the ignition key from starting the vehicle if any trace of alcohol is detected.
In Malaysia, our laws need tightening and, more importantly, the authorities need to ensure that they are implemented consistently and fairly without regard to the status of a person.
The habit of giving discounts for summonses should cease immediately.
CAP calls on the transport authorities to take the following measures:
- Tighten the existing laws;
- Enforce the laws consistently and fairly;
- Make it mandatory for public transport vehicle and private cars to be installed with alcohol-sensing devices that will prevent a drunken driver from starting his vehicle;
- Police should keep a watch on premises known to hold drinking parties and test the drivers leaving;
- Encourage more motorists to migrate to public transport.
Mohd Mohideen Abdul Kader is president of the Consumers’ Association of Penang.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.