Malaysia’s Killer Roads

accident.jpgSome of the photos from the crash scene of the Simpang Ampat accident are making the rounds through email. It was a horrible accident by the looks of it, with vehicles piled on top of each other; images of the dead, one without his head attached, is a poignant reminder that death can come suddenly and swiftly.


The death toll on Malaysian roads is very high. About 6,300 fatalities on the road each year, or a fatality rate of about 26 for every 100,000 people. In comparison, the fatality rate in the US is around 12 per 100,000.

Why are people dying on our roads? I mean, there will always be accidents, there will always be death on the roads. A car travelling even at 50 kmph is moving fast enough to kill someone just as surely as a bullet travelling at 1000 kmph will. The question is why does Malaysia have a higher death rate than other countries.

People driving recklessly? Speeding, or under the influence of alcohol and drugs? Vehicles are unsafe? Overworked bus drivers who fall asleep at the wheel?

I’ve traveled all over the world, and i can say that we have very good highways. Well designed, no sharp corners, and generally free from potholes and other obstructions. So it can’t be the roads that are killing us.

A problem of enforcement? Buses that do not conform to all the necessary safety standards such as worn out wheels, or faulty breaks. Or large vehicles that should be travelling no faster than 80 kmph but are zooming around the highways at 130 kmph? How many of these racing monsters are pulled over by the police? I certainly have never seen one stopped by the police for speeding.

What will it take for better safety standards and guidelines to be formulated and enforced? Speed limiters on large vehicles. GPS tracking to ensure that any speeding vehicle will be flagged. What needs to be done is to make companies (and their directors/owners) personally responsible and liable for road deaths attributed to their vehicles. This will make them careful in the selection of drivers, and to ensure that their vehicles are always well serviced. 

Killer roads. Killer bus and lorry drivers. 5 ton bullets barreling into my car, crushing me and my family into a pulp. No thanks. Give me AirAsia or MAS any day.

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