After gaining independence in 1957, our country Malaysia inherited a good
infrastructure. However, some of this infrastructure was rack due to lack of maintenance by the new Federal Government. It was only after rapid growth of economic development, our government starts maintaining and building new basic infrastructure comprising of roads, railways, shipping and airlines.
Like other several countries in Asian Region, Malaysia enjoyed rapid economic development in recent years which has led to a substantial growth in its vehicle fleet which in 1987 there is only 3.5 million vehicles registered to more than 12 million vehicles registered during 2002. With national owned car maker, PROTON made available in automobile market, Malaysians are indirectly given the opportunity to make them to have at least one car for each family. However, these increases of number of vehicles registered in Malaysia have steadily contributed increasing of number of accidents in each year.
There are two main reasons that relate in the increases number of accidents in our country. The reasons are caused by driver’s error and the other one is because Malaysian roads are hazardous. This research paper will be discussing on this issue and by the end of this paper we will be able to know the main cause that contributes to the increases of Malaysian road accidents.
Basically in Malaysia, roads are classified into to broad categories, namely Federal Roads and State Roads.
1.1 Federal Roads
All National Expressway and Highways such as Federal Highway and other toll highways declared as Federal Roads under the Federal Road Ordinance (1959). All these highways are under the administration on Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA).
1.2 State Roads
State road generally comprises of the primary roads providing intra – state travel between district administrative centres. All other roads that had not mentioned in Federal Road Ordinance fall in this category.
However, despite roads have been classified by the government, all major road accidents still happen either in federal roads or state roads. Back in 1990, the worst single road accident occurred in Kuala Lumpur – Karak highway which claimed lives of 17 people. These road accidents have been increasing rapidly since then amounting more than 250,000 accidents in year 2002 as reported by the Road Transport Department which have claimed more than 5000 Malaysian lives.
Many said that the actual cause of these road accidents came from dangerous and impropriate road infrastructure that have been built in our country. In the next chapter, we will be discussing on the cause of road accidents happen in our country.
2.0 Causes of Road Accident in Malaysia
Generally, there are two major causes of road accidents in Malaysia. One is because of the driver error and the other is the infrastructures of road that are dangerous to public. Although human error is involved in most accidents, and indeed Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) have recorded this as the main cause in 90% of accidents happen in our country. This fact can generally be accepted but how about the road infrastructure and road environment that is under-reported can be the major cause of certain accidents in our country. In United Kingdom for instance, it has been estimated from on-the-spot accident survey teams that the road environment and infrastructure is a contributory factor in 28% of all accident cases.
In this chapter we will look on the major causes that have made many accidents in our country.
2.1 Human Error
As reported by PDRM in their report saying that 90% of accidents came from this cause. We will look at 3 top mistakes as reported by PDRM that most drivers made while driving that have been causing road accidents.
2.1.1 Careless Driver
This factor is the highest factors reported to PDRM by the parties involved in road accidents. Neither male nor female drivers cannot avoid from becoming careless driver. Daydreaming and using cellular phones during driving are among the main cause why driver became careless while driving on roads. Minor mistakes have caused such a big trouble to others that are involved in certain accidents.
Speeding also has caused quite a number of accidents that have been reported to PDRM. Driver especially male driver took the opportunity of night time in driving fast in both federal and state roads. Despite all major highways equipped with speed trap, it still can’t prevent drivers to speed during off peak period of road usage. Especially in newly built highway for instance in KESAS Highway and Ampang Middle Ring Road 2 These are some of the areas that are considered favorite spot for speedy drivers to test their machine and it leads to fatal road accidents.
Another top cause of driver error have been causing quite a number of accidents reported by PDRM is accident while driver making turn at a junction. The main reason why drivers usually hit another car while taking turning either to the left or right or maybe U-turn is the blind spot visibility that cannot determine by the car side and rear mirrors. However, this blind spot visibility can be reduced by using extra mirror attached to the side mirrors.
2.2 Road Infrastructure
Although most accident that happened was came from drivers’ error but still the road conditions and infrastructure play big role in some accident cases. Our government has allocated various kind of fund to local agencies responsible to ensure the maintenance of federal and state roads are at top condition at all time. But despite sufficient funding given by the government and various road campaign done in order to reduce road accidents, our road infrastructure still not at good and sound condition that have caused many fatality accidents recently. As for this, we will look on the problems of our road infrastructures that have cause many accidents in our country.
2.2.1 Locations of Road and Highway
Recently there are many new roads and highways were built in meeting the demands of the increasing of vehicle fleet in our country. However, these newly roads and highways are not located strategically either in its locations or in its layout of structures. For instance as for the Middle Ring Road 2 that connected from Kepong until Sungai Besi road, most of this highway structure are based on flyovers. Many accidents occurred in this highway especially near at Ampang Flyover that have claims plenty of lives since its opening. This is because the surface that connecting the flyover and the land road usually are bumpy and drivers cannot control their vehicle especially during dark and rainy days.
2.2.2 No Specific Lane for Motorcyclist
Based on the statistic given by the PDRM, most victims on the accident reported to them are the motorcyclists. This kind of accidents that involved motorcyclist usually happen either in federal or state roads. Main reason behind of this scenario is there are only limited lanes provided for motorcyclists for their usage. For instance, in PLUS highway, there is no motorcycle lane provided. Motorcyclist have to shared with buses, lorries and cars all along the way if the use this highway. Many accidents reported happened in those highways that do not have any specific lane for motorcycles and most of this accident have caused death for the motorcyclist
2.2.3 Insufficient of Traffic Lights
Many new roads are built especially in new housing area and industrial area. But still many accidents also happen in this new road especially at newly T-junction and zebra crossing. This is due to insufficient of traffic lights provided by local authority. A lot of accident happen when car or motorcycle try come out from a junction due to no traffic light provided at near Menara Maxisegar, Pandan Indah. This is very dangerous especially during peak time such as at morning and evening when most people start their journey to work. Many accidents happened here due to confusion of road usage.
2.2.4 Insufficient and Improper of Street Lights
Without proper street lighting provides for all road drivers, accidents can easily happen during night time. This is because of lack of visibility while driving on road especially during night or rainy days. Although some street lights are placed in certain road by local authority, the light beam still not so bright and useful for the drivers since it is blocked by big and old trees. For instance, street light placed in Jalan Genting Klang was not so useful for all road users since it is blocked by big trees. Accidents usually happen in this road usually during night time.
Although new and olds road been tarred properly, but still there are a lot of potholes found on the road. This is because heavy usage of certain road used by unsuitable vehicles such as lorries, busses, cranes and trailers. When it rains, potholes turn into puddle and it is very hazardous to motorcyclists. Some cases reported that accident was caused by these potholes. For instance, recently a big pothole almost claimed lives at the Mahameru Highway.
Based from the causes given in this research, we can see that most accidents happened in our country came from improper infrastructure of roads. Allthough it was by PDRM that most of the accidents occurred are caused by drivers error, it is obvious that improper infrastructure of road plays the major roles in contributing increases of road accidents.
3.0 Recommendations for Improvement of Road Infrastructure
Since most of the accidents happened due to improper road infrastructure, all these findings can be improved by local authorities in order to reduce the number of accidents in country. Below are some recommendations that can be done in order to reduce the number of accidents in our country.
3.1 Road Safety Awareness Campaign
All local authorities should take this initiative in order to increase the awareness of road safety. This campaign should take place from grass root such as campaign should be done in primary schools in order to educate public on road safety. All accident prone areas should be highlighted in this campaign so that, public will be more cautious if they using the accident prone roads
3.2 Regular Inspection on Public Roads
All agencies responsible in maintaining all public roads should do regular inspection on road conditions. Tree branches that blocked drivers visibility on signage and street lights should prune regularly or to be cut off. This will help in improving the road condition. With regular inspection been done by the said agencies, any found potholes can be covered as soon as possible. This will help in reducing accidents especially during rainy days.
3.3 Special Lane for Motorcyclist
Since motorcyclist has become the most victims in road accidents, our government should build more special lane for motorcyclist. Either in federal or state roads, special lanes should be available for motorcyclist. During downpour, motorcyclist are the most vulnerable to road accidents due to lack of visibility of other road users, so by using this lane it will reduce the vulnerability of accident as they can stop at certain stop point that is built for the purpose of rainy days usage rather than using flyovers as shades during rain.
3.4 Identify Suitable Road Structure
As many new roads are built in meeting the demand of the increases of vehicle fleet, our government should be able to seek other alternatives despite using flyovers in connecting one road to others. This is because most flyovers built are not driver-friendly since most of the flyovers are built near to sharp corners that are dangerous for the road users. The structure of these flyovers also should be more firm and safe for user so that what happened to Middle Ring Road 2 closure in Kepong will not happen again in the future.
3.5 Road Safety Plan
It is strongly recommended that all local authorities are require to produce a road safety plan document annually which is published and distributed to the public regardless of increases or decreases number of accident happen in our country. This road safety plan should contain background to the road accident situation in the authority area and a summary of proposal planned by the authority. It should also described the methods used for monitoring and evaluation and should include a summary of the previous year’s work and effect of accidents.
In my personal view, most accidents are caused by hazardous road and lack of proper infrastructures in our country and not by drivers error itself. Driver’s errors are something subjective and it is difficult for us to rectify the mistakes in order to reduce the road accidents rate in our country. Although some accident happened because of these drivers error, but from my point of view the improper road infrastructure plays a big role in contributing to the increases of road accidents rate.
As we can see on chapter 2 of this paper, most of road infrastructure has contributed in the increases number of accidents happened in our country. Some of these findings can be improve as soon as possible by implementing some recommendations given in this research. The recommendations given could be a big help in reducing numbers of accident in our country. Therefore, it is obvious that most accidents happened are caused by the lack, improper and hazardous road infrastructure in our country.
- N. Saidon & C.J Baguley (1993). Road accidents in Malaysia. Berkshire: Transport Research Laboratory.
- Polis Di Raja Malaysia (2000). Statistical report road accident Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Percetakan Nasional Malaysia.