Safety first at all times
MALAYSIA fortunately does not lie within the so-called “Ring of Fire” geographical zone which faces the threat of natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that can cause massive loss of lives.
But unfortunately the country is prone to another form of disaster, the man-made ones, which bring about equally tragic consequences.
The number of people killed in road crashes year in and year out is staggering to say the least – among the highest in the world populationwise – certainly a record all Malaysians should be ashamed of.
One of the causes for this is that there are far too many motor vehicles in our midst, perhaps the highest per population, too.
There are more than 11 million motorcycles and 12 million cars on our roads and via this column over the years I’ve often highlighted concerns especially of us being in the situation of having too many motorcycle-related deaths.
An average of over 4,000 motorcyclists die every year and they make up over 65% of road fatalities.
Carelessness or a low level of safety consciousness rampant among road users is without doubt a major cause for the loss of lives that’s certainly a drain on Malaysia’s human resource and productivity.
Road accidents cost the country some RM7.8 billion annually, not to mention untold misery, grief and suffering to those who lost their loved ones and breadwinners in these tragedies.
And when we talk of motorcycles, the young are the biggest victims because it’s a Malaysia phenomenon that they take to the two-wheelers like ducks to water.
In the last few months, there has been a series of tragic road crashes.
The latest one happened last Sunday in Kuantan when a buggy ploughed into spectators killing a man and his five-year-old daughter. His wife and son were injured.
Visuals of the race that went viral show how shockingly bizarre the almost total absence of safety consciousness among the organisers and the spectators. Bizarre, in fact, is an understatement.
The race was held on a street circuit with only plastic barriers separating the speeding buggies from the spectators! How on earth such a venue was chosen in the first place and without proper crowd control is mind boggling.
What kind of safety are we talking about when only plastic barriers, the type that we see for traffic diversion, were used?
As usual there’s been a lot of finger-pointing in the aftermath of this tragedy. It would be easy to determine the causes of the crash without the need for lengthy investigations. It’s all captured in the videos.
According to go-karting activist Nik Iruwan Nik Izani, the buggies used in the race were meant to be built by engineering students of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia for educational purposes and not for racing.
“The cars are built by students using just scrap automotive parts where they utilise their engineering knowledge to improve the vehicles and test their achievements based on performance data, not racing.
“The purpose of such vehicles is never to test driving skills. The very organisation of such vehicles into a race format is wrong and those responsible should be held accountable,” he said.
Referring to an official’s remark that all safety precautions had been taken, Nik Iruwan, who runs a karting development programme, said: “What safety precautions? The track itself was not safe. To begin with, those vehicles were not meant for racing.”
Can the organisers explain what were they trying to prove by having such a race? Prompt action ought to be taken against such recklessness.
And in the meantime, some form of immediate assistance ought to be rendered to the victims’ surviving family members who are recovering from the trauma of it all.
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