Rewarding safety, penalising recklessness: A proposal for safer roads

Lorry operators urged to act

18 Feb 2024 09:32am
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo illustrated by Sinar Daily.
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo illustrated by Sinar Daily.

SHAH ALAM - Malaysia grapples with a persistent problem: fatal crash involving lorries.

While speed limiters and intelligent systems offer hope, their effectiveness hinges on crucial questions: are they universally used, and are they set for safety first?

In an interview with Sinar Daily, Miros Chairman Professor Dr Wong Shaw Voon shared insights into the current landscape of technology implementation and the obstacles encountered in ensuring road safety.

"While technology undoubtedly holds potential to mitigate risks, there are notable discrepancies in how speed limiters are utilised.

"Certain vehicles come equipped with speed limiters that allow owners to set specific speeds, while others are pre-configured with higher limits, sometimes for marketing purposes," he said.

Wong stressed the necessity for a standardised approach, underlining the importance of addressing how speed limits are established—whether through manual driver settings or intelligent speed assistance systems.

"The issue revolves around the method of speed regulation.

"Firstly, manual control relies on lorry drivers adhering to predetermined limits.

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"Secondly, unintentional speeding incidents may occur, and speed limiters can serve as a preventive measure in such cases," he said.

On the efficacy of intelligent speed assistance systems, Wong highlighted their ability to utilise diverse data sources to ascertain speed limits, including GPS data from navigation apps like Waze or Google Maps, and video cameras that monitor road signage.

However, their widespread adoption remains uncertain.

Wong also stressed the imperative of collaboration among authorities, manufacturers, and operators to promote road safety.

"Operators wield significant influence in this regard. Many commercial vehicles are equipped with GPS tracking systems, enabling supervisors to monitor driver conduct.

"Leveraging this data can promote safer driving practices," he suggested.

He proposed implementing measures such as rewarding safe driving behaviors with bonuses while penalising reckless driving with salary deductions.

"Lorry operators must utilise available tools to ensure the safety of their operations," he asserted.

Wong reiterated the importance of collective action in combating overspeeding and enhancing road safety.

"While drivers play a pivotal role and must prioritise their safety, operators bear substantial responsibility in ensuring the safety of both drivers and other road users.

"With existing technology at our disposal, concerted efforts in implementation and cooperation can lead to significant advancements in road safety for all," he added.

PLUS Malaysia Berhad (PLUS) managing director Datuk Nik Airina Nik Jaffar recently disclosed that while heavy vehicles using the North-South Expressway make up only eight per cent of the total traffic, accidents involving them accounted for 10 per cent of the total fatalities on the PLUS Expressway last year.

PLUS records also indicated that 12 per cent of all heavy vehicles on the highway exceeded the allowable load, reaching up to 24 tonnes per axle compared to the permitted 12 tonnes.