“This SEPTEMBER, the whole Malaysians will unite to reduce road accidents.” That was an advertisement line by a radio station aired since last August, when Muslims were ushering the holy month of Ramadan.
Infact, seven days before Muslims celebrated idilfitri, Royal Malaysian Police (RMP) launched its 20th series annual road safety campaign “Ops Sikap 20” with a commitment to reduce deaths by five percent compared with the same safety campaign launched during the same season last year.
But unfortunately a total of 261 lives perished from various road accidents during the campaign period.
It seemed that September as the month for motorists to change their attitude while driving, continued to leave a black mark on our road safety record. Some even blame the police “for failure to bring down the death rate.”
Suggestions are aplenty. There are those who want the formula to reduce road accidents be reviewed. There are cacophony of voices and feelings at the road accident figures. Some were upset as to suggest that “road users will still flout the laws, even with death as a penalty.”
Such are the reactions from the current Ops Sikap 20. The issue will die down and will come up again in the next road safety operations.
Ops Sikap was launched since 2000 to replace the same campaign but on a different name Ops Pacak and Ops Statik, since 1996.
But the flower of road safety campaigns by any other names still smell as bad. And the last September campaign is no different with more people were carried to the graves due to road accidents. They include seven deaths in Gurun, Kedah and Sabak Benam, Selangor, two days before Aidilfitri.
For this writer, it’s the attitude of the motorists that should be changed, not the name of the road safety campaign. For as long as there are ill-mannered road users, there will continue to be fatalities on the road.
Ask our friends or relatives, they will have a lot of stories to tell about the characters and attitude of our motorists.
The question is, what are the best action be meted out against them?
The suggestion to place more police personnel on the road to book offenders doesn’t sound effective enough. Probably there are other approaches. One of them is that all road users be allowed to make police report through short messaging system (SMS) should they come across the traffic law-breakers.
For the police, they must be prepared to identify the plate numbers of the reported cars so that they can wait for them midway to issue them the summonses.
No person wants to see members or their family be victims of road accidents.
As such, something must be done to stop the road tragedy – that is through attitudinal change.
We shouldn’t turn this Ops Sikap statistic just into another rhetoric.
--- UTUSAN MALAYSIA