Fikirlah:Bad Road Attitude Makes Driving Depressing

By Kurniawati Kamarudin

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- Malaysians are at their wits end with the traffic jams and the antics of road users that are getting worse by the day.

Yet the traffic snarls and poor road manners failed to deter the rise in vehicle ownership. The improving public transport modes too seem to have intangible effect on Malaysian road users, who still prefer to be on the road.

It is a daily chore for me to get to my office at Wisma Bernama in Jalan Tun Razak from Bandar Damai Perdana, Cheras where a 45-minute journey covering 17 kilometers could end up more than two hours in the event of an accident or rain along the way.

The crawling traffic is not the only woe for those behind the wheels. The selfish, the reckless and the discourteous road users add to the misery of worked up drivers and occupants trapped in their vehicles.

The unbecoming attitude of Malaysian drivers and riders on the road is certainly perplexing. A lot have been said on this.

Some move like a snail on the fast lane and some mistake the road for a F1 circuit. Just how many bother to provide the indicator to let you know where they are going. To me, it appears that many are clueless on where they are heading. They just make a sudden turn at junctions causing oncoming cars to swerve and the one following behind to apply sudden brake.

Then there are the busy bodies on the road who are the biggest contributors to road congestion. Passing motorists slowdown to gawk at minor road incidents contribution to the traffic jams that they themselves frown upon.

In those days one only need to worry of those who drink and drive or those who dream and drive. Nowadays, we also have to keep a lookout for those who text and drive or phone and drive as well.

With one hand on the steering and the other on the phone, they dangerously manuver both through the phone and the traffic on their own pace much to the annoyance of others on the road. A slight lapse, they become the cause for the traffic jams and accident statistics.

They say there is no such thing as the 'battle of sexes' on the road, because on the road both men and women are the same, inconsiderate at best. They forget that there are others too who drive on the same road.

The bigger the vehicle that they are in, the more arrogant they become. The smaller vehicles including motorcyles too can be pushy, sneaking dangerously into tight spaces to get ahead.

Then there are the road bullies, the most dangerous of them all. They tailgate the vehicles infront of them. They incense other road users with sign or foul language. They are often hot tempered and are ready to pick a fight on the road on the slightest provocation or mishap.

Even robbers prowl on the road. A small road accident could actually be a prelude to a robbery. Many unsuspecting drivers and occupants have fallen prey to the 'mock accidents' on the road.

Then there is another concern, there are insane drivers on the road too! The daily grind, the traffic congestion and the vagaries of life can take a toll on anyone. Their pent up frustrations could manifest in many ways on the road, often giving rise to many of the behaviour and characters mentioned above.

The talk delivered by Criminalogist and Safety Consultant from KickStart Academy, Master Saiful Hamiruzzaman on road safety in the context of mental health highlighted this dimension to the problem.

Saiful noted that studies had indicated the psyco-social factors that transformed Malaysian drivers/riders into risky characters. One of them is depression that drives one to let out their pent up feelings on the road.

The study noted that men were more prone to turn into the unsavoury characters on the road, simply because they could easily lose control of their emotions.

These are the things and characters that make driving on the roads here difficult and daunting.

As bad road attitude also contributed to the high number of accident statistics, I personally believe that we have to go back to the schools in changing the attitude of motorists. Though road safety is mentioned in the syllabus, there has to be greater emphasis on the subject matter.

It is best to start them from young and if we are to tell them to learn road manners in their late teens when they get their driving licence, I believe nothing is going to change.

(This commentary if the personal view of the writer and does not in anyway reflect on BERNAMA's stand on what is said by the writer).