PWD drivers not immune to consequences for their mistakes

01 Mar 2024 03:26pm
Photo for illustrative purpose. - BERNAMA FILE PIX
Photo for illustrative purpose. - BERNAMA FILE PIX

We often read or hear about the people committing offences, especially traffic offences. In fact, some of these offences led to serious injuries and deaths.

There have been reports on drivers who drove against traffic, drove on motorcycle lanes (which occurred in the Klang Valley), driving while intoxicated and the latest incident that occurred in Penang.

These incidents involved motorcycle riders and passengers navigating in dangerous conditions, with the passengers hurling suspected sand objects and attempting to kick motorcyclists trying to overtake them.

However, when these cases were brought to court, it was then revealed that the offender was a holder of a persons with disabilities (PWD) card.

There were also cases of car drivers refusing to give way to ambulances carrying patients, but when investigated, it turned out that the car driver was a PWD cardholder who was deaf and his hearing aid was not functioning properly.

In a similar case in Kuala Lumpur, upon questioning, the explanation given was that the individual had mental health issues.

The question arises, whether they were really PWDs or were simply abusing the card to help mitigate punishment or avoid responsibility for their actions?

Or did they simply take pride in owning a PWD card, thereby considering it as a 'licence' to commit offences, consequently avoiding punishment?

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In this context, I am not questioning about the licenses held by PWDs as they were entitled to them.

Apart from helping them in their daily activities, a driver's license for PWDs also empowered them to lead a normal life such as being able to socialise, go shopping, engage in recreational actvities and so on.

However, this privilege was often used by some parties to 'cover up' their wrongdoings. PWD cards cannot be used as a 'licence' to escape punishment unless the individual was mentally unfit or insane at the time of the incident.

Keep in mind that PWD cards do not provide advantages in legal proceedings; the impact was limited to potentially reducing sentences if an individual was convicted of an offence. They serve solely as grounds for sentence reduction, upon presentation of credible evidence.

Due to the increasing number of cases, especially traffic offences, many were wondering how those who committed such offences could claim to be PWD cardholders.

Is it that easy to obtain a PWD card and then be misused by irresponsible parties?

In other words, how can they be categorised as PWDs?

If an individual has visual impairment, it will be impossible for them to obtain a driver's licence except if they have physical disabilities, such as restricted movement in hands and feet, making driving challenging.

Hence, applications for PWD driver's license for classes A and A1 were only accepted by the Road Transport Department (RTD) state or branch offices.

Furthermore, the requirements to obtain a driver's licence for PWDs included a PWD card certified by a medical report and only medical officers could determine whether someone was eligible to get a driver's licence and to use modified vehicles according to their physical abilities.

Additionally, there were also cases of road accidents involving drivers said to have mental health issues or mental disabilities. This type of PWD may be more dangerous because such individuals were difficult to detect and appear normal in appearance.

Therefore, perhaps it is time for the authorities, especially the RTD to review the issuance of driver's licences to PWDs to ensure that the licences were truly utilised by them, especially for daily use.

Furthermore, it may be necessary to investigate the background of driving licence applicants and if it was found that the applicant was a PWD cardholder, special tests may be conducted on them before granting a driver's licence.

Shahrizal Ahmad Zaini is a Sinar Harian Johor bureau journalist