A safe road to take

Often we hear and see in the radio or tv about a certain community leader or ministers blaming the reckless and selfish drivers for the increased road accident. However, have they ever think that their road planning,its design and the quality of the work carry out by their nominated contractors should equally be blame for the increased accidents? Do all these “leaders” have any right to point their blood stained fingers at someone else? Afterall, they are chosen by the people to serve the people and they PROMISED and VOWED on it.

Citizen Nades aka R. Nadeswaran wrote about this on 1/12/2004:-

Way back in the sixties, pupils in Standard Six learnt the exploits of Francis Drake, Christopher Columbus, Mahatma Gandhi and Ali Jinnah. We also learnt about one Mr MacAdam, who revolutionised the road building industry.

As 11-year-olds, we were perplexed that most of the roads in Malaya at that time were “MacAdamised” roads. Then came someone who decided 11-year-olds had enough of colonial masters and felt they should all learn about Hang Tuah and forget about the Hindu prince called Parameswara.

But those in the public service presently, including Mr Suret Singh, the director-general of the Transport Ministry’s Road Safety Department must have also come across Mr MacAdam. So, what has road safety got to do with MacAdam?

The majority are of the wrongly held view that accidents are only related to speeding, careless driving and the like. But don’t forget that the road signages, construction, condition and maintenance of roads are contributing factors to accidents. For example, a newly-constructed road in SS2 in Petaling Jaya has become a sea of pot-holes and pebbles after rain over the past few days.
While we cannot tell government departments and agencies which contractor they should appoint to carry out road works, (lest yet another scandal ala PMC comes to the fore), at least we can tell them that we need good roads. Therefore, while congratulating the ministry for its far-sightedness in setting up a department to look after road safety, one must not forget to see if the DG and his officers are vested with enough powers to ensure that our roads are safe. Can the DG, for example, compel other departments and agencies to have more visible signs on dangers ahead?

Can the DG ask the Public Works Department to realign any road which it deems is dangerous to the public? At a time when agencies are willing to pay up to RM16, 000 each for plastic coconut trees, will they be willing to spend a fraction for an “Awas” sign? From past experiences, the plastic coconut trees bring other sort of benefits for the people who sign the local order. But can road signs bring about similar rewards?

Can the DG compel the little dictators in local councils to cancel the licences of billboards and hoardings at road junctions?

All the advertisements and television commercials will mean nothing if the people involved do not have the power to put right several wrongs of other departments and agencies who seem to get their priorities wrong.

There was a time when it was a government policy not to allow any sort of advertisements at junctions because they are a distraction to motorists. These days, they are premium spots, not only for the advertisers but also for those who sign the approval forms.The list goes on and on. Suret has the job cut out for him, but he will Be wrong if he thinks the number of accidents and the related deaths can be reduced with the snap of a finger.

Already, the chest-thumpers are at work — claiming that the latest Ops Sikap has brought down the deaths during the recent festive season to 200. The prime minister has chided such feats and rightly so, because one death is one too many. It will be impossible for the department with its small pool of people to undertake a national-level effort.

I am of the view that the department identifies one municipality and implements the policies and measures, then fine tune it and then “export” them periodically to other municipalities. This is the only way to go forward — focus on one area and then get the systems right. Otherwise, the attention will be divided and there will be no concentration in the efforts. We have already spent millions on road safety campaigns which have not brought about the desired results. We are going to spend millions more, but this time around, let us do a bit of planning and execute the plan well.

Note: This article was published in The SUN on 1/12/2004.

8 thoughts on “A safe road to take”

  1. Another good one frank! I do admit that one of the factors in reducing road accidents are the conditions of the roads.
    I came across an article by a independant road tester that says the Kesas Highway is not safe for travelling on speeds of up to 90 km/h (which is the speed limit for the highway).

  2. Good one.
    Not only the condition of the roads, but bad layout and traffic flow as well.
    Sometimes you are forced to make dangerous turns to get to your destination because the roads are confusing, doesn’t make sense (have to travel extra 500m just to get to other side of the road?!) or make it difficult to see oncoming cars.
    In the more advanced cities roads are laid out in a very neat grid, here in KL and outskirts, they look like spider webs spun by a drunken spider.
    PS Yes I agree, I think the KESAS speed limit is 110, with only some twisting stretches where it comes to 90 or 80.

  3. The major problem i have with highways are some exit signboards are way too near to the exit… and I have to switch lanes quickly to go that exit. Major stress on part of the highway which I totally unfamiliar with..

  4. Yah~ I must admit some of the road conditions in Semenanjung are really terrible. Everytime when I drove the highway from Kajang to Nilai, some few kilometres part of the road can be as dark as in a forest, but once u get near to Putrajaya, my my… the lights were shine brightly for almost every 5 metres 1 light. If u know wat I mean. Ridiculous!! I dun know if these people really do understand the initial meaning of having road side lights???

  5. Kekeke… yap. I even done a survey on the satay owners of Kajang when was in UKM. That was one of my project. And from the info of one of the taukeh (the biggest sate taukeh in Kajang), I even calculated how much he earns in one month ler. Man~~ u should really see his antique cars… Very friendly guy though. 😉

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