KUALA LUMPUR – Wearing seat belts and helmets improves safety of users by 60 percent says the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS).
MIROS director-general Prof Dr Wong Shaw Voon said using safety features effectively reduces fatalities and risks faced by motorists and passengers during unfortunate circumstances like accidents.
“Serious injuries that can result in deaths are normally caused by failure of passengers to wear seats belts. Upon impact during accidents, passengers are thrown out or knock into hard objects while motorcyclists or pillion riders who do not wear proper helmets can suffer critical injuries or death,” he told Bernama, here today.
He said 20,257 accidents that resulted in 155 deaths were recorded throughout the country during the first seven days of ‘Ops Selamat 7’ which was launched on July 10.
Dr Wong said that the total number of deaths showed that there were 22 deaths a day compared with 13 for the same period last year and from that number, pillion riders on motorcycles accounted for 94 deaths.
Road users need to start taking responsibility for their own safety while driving since more than 80 percent of traffic accidents are caused by human error according to MIROS statistics.
Passengers seated in the front and back must also buckle up since statistics reveal that nearly 90 percent of vehicles currently on Malaysian roads are fitted with rear seat belts, giving seat belt access to 85 percent of vehicle occupants in the country.
MIROS statistics showed that the compliance rate for rear seat belt rule was 47 percent when introduced in February 2009 (enforcement began on January 1, 2009), but this plummeted to 13 percent by end-2009, 9.7 percent by 2010 and 9.2 percent by 2011.
Compliance rose to 13.5 percent in 2012, before dropping again to 12.5 percent in 2013, and 7.7 percent for the first four months of 2014 and needless to say, this is extremely alarming and MIROS says compliance and awareness seem to be borne more out of the fear of being fined.
A US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration study revealed that in an accident involving a vehicle travelling at 50 km/h, the weight of unbuckled rear passengers jumps by 30-60 times their original weight.
In simple terms, MIROS had said during a 30-50 km/h collision, an unrestrained rear passenger becomes the equivalent of a 3.5-tonne projectile hitting the back of the front passenger.
Some people think the implementation of the rear seat belt law has been put on hold but that is not true, says MIROS because only older models not equipped with seat belts are exempt from the law.
If parents adhere strictly to traffic laws, children will emulate it and thus it will create a culture of safety within the family and eventually it will spread to friends and their families.
Meanwhile, Road Safety Department (JKJR) director-general Abd Ghafar Yusof said various proactive measures were being continued with the cooperation of various parties, including the Education Ministry to include road safety as part of the education system in the country so as to create awareness among students in schools.
“The initiative is to enable students to understand traffic rules and road safety aspects at primary and secondary schools,” he said.