This is another paper I wrote for my English class. The assignment was to write about a problem in my community along with two supporting examples of why this issue needs addressing and/or ways to resolve it. I wrote it on 2/16/13.
The city of Kuala Lumpur has a very notable issue in regards to traffic. Here in Malaysia, traffic laws are viewed more as a suggestion and not a rule. I’ve noticed a similar mindset when in different parts of Southeast Asia, but Malaysia has so far been the worst.
When driving around town, people drive over the lane lines instead of in between. At times, there can be as many as five cars side-by-side on a three lane road. People do not signal when changing lanes, turn corners or pull out into traffic. There are no posted speed limits on a majority of the roads, so people drive at any speed they choose. There is a marked disregard for safety and respect on the roads. Because of this, Malaysia has very poor driving safety statistics. According to Malaysia’s Department of Transportation, there were 414,421 accidents in 2010, up from 162,491 in 1995.
Motorcycles and scooters play a large part in Malaysia’s poor driver rating. Scooters have their own set of unwritten rules to follow, which is to say they do not follow any rules at all. They go in between cars, drive on the sidewalks, weave in and out of cars stopped at lights and worm their way through cross traffic at intersections when they have a red light. It is very frightening to drive and have a scooter dart around your car, coming within inches at very high speeds.
Even when walking around town, one must be very cautious about the traffic. When my boyfriend called me when I was in the US right after he moved out here and told me he’d almost gotten hit three times in one day, I thought he had been exaggerating. As I have found out during my stay here, he was not stretching the truth. On one occasion when I was crossing the road at a red light, a car drove right through the light in the lane I was stepping into and I had to jump back to avoid being hit. The car was so close I was able to smack it as it drove past. Instances like that occur on a regular basis. Red lights mean nothing if there are no other cars in the intersection.
I believe these issues would not be quite as apparent if there was a larger police presence on the roads. There are police officers all over the malls and train stations, but in the several months I have lived here, I have seen less than five police cars on the road and I have never seen anyone here be pulled over. If the police would patrol the roads more frequently and enforce the traffic laws, perhaps traffic infractions and the number of vehicles in accidents would decline.
Another factor that would help traffic is making the public more aware. The attitude here in Malaysia is that most people just don’t care about the rules. Bribing officials to get out of fines or just plain not following rules is very normal. The only people I’ve seen get upset about the disregarding of traffic laws are the foreigners. If the Malaysian people were more aware and could see how their disregard for traffic laws contributed to the 760,433 vehicles involved in accidents in 2010, perhaps they would be a little less eager to drive halfway on the sidewalk or run a red light during a break in the cross traffic.
Helping people become aware of which laws are being broken and making them be responsible for breaking those laws in conjunction with showing them how their disregard for the laws is a direct factor in accidents and fatalities will go a long way in helping curb the issue of unsafe driving practices.