An opportune moment in time to address road safety
By Dr Krishnan Rajam
I learned with interest that the traffic police have observed a very significant decline in road traffic crashes and injuries (probably deaths too) during this MCO period. This is obviously due to a great reduction in exposure to traffic. The society at large and health (and related) sector have benefited from the reduction in resources needed to handle this increasing public health issue.
This is clearly not the long-term solution to reducing road traffic crashes and injuries (including deaths). Maybe we can use this opportunity to implement an important component of road safety strategy, which is sustained enforcement of road traffic rules.
All previous governmental efforts (mainly educational) have been unable to sustain a high degree of compliance among road users to wear and fasten motorcycle helmets properly, wear seat belts, obey speed limits, avoid use of alcohol/drugs and obey other rules.
These are the "low hanging fruits" in road safety. In other words, these are the relatedly simple strategies which have been proven to succeed in other countries.
This moment in time provides an opportunity for the police (and related agencies) to enforce these measures universally and consistently as "secondary enforcement", while they carry out the "primary" task of enforcing the MCO.
The "perception of being caught" will be enhanced significantly. When people return to the roads, they will remember that the enforcement agencies will look out for compliance to these rules. It only requires the cooperation of the enforcement agencies and a political will to initiate a new beginning for road safety in Malaysia.
(Dr Krishnan Rajam is former Technical Officer, Injury Prevention, WHO Regional Office for Western Pacific.)