Every time there is a major holiday festival in Malaysia, road accidents and fatalities will shoot up dramatically. The government is at wit’s end trying to solve this problem year after year but the number of accidents keeps on growing unabated. The latest interesting move this year Deepavali and Idil Fitri double celebration is the reduction of speed limit on federal roads from 90km/h to 80km/h. The government asserted that speed limit reduction in Australia and the US has significantly reduced the number of fatalities during major holidays. But can we really believe that our drivers are comparable to those in Australia and the US? I had the pleasure of driving in Sydney, the “worst” place to drive in Australia, during peak hours on one of my holidays there and you just cannot compare that with how people drive in Malaysia anywhere at any time of the day.
In one of my humanity courses I took at my college long time ago, the class studied a book that argued that hardcore poverty cannot be eradicated. We had to accept it as a fact of live and deal with it, the book argued. I am incline to take this “fatalistic” (pragmatic?) view on the way Malaysians drive. You just can’t change it. Of course, we could teach our children how to be good future drivers. But these mad men on the road have kids too and they will become future mad men on the road. There is simply no way to break this vicious cycle.
I believe the 10km/h reduction in speed will do little in bringing down road accidents and fatalities. Because Deepavali and Idil Fitri are separated by three days this time around, let us hope that there won’t be massive influx of people on the road compressed in a short period of time. Hopefully, people would plan to distribute their journey back to their home towns within these three days which, in turn, would reduce congestion and thus road accidents and fatalities. Of course, sensible driving would help too.