Hornbill Unleashed

October 2, 2016

Cruising emergency lanes is a no-no

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 9:01 PM

You’ve just been involved in a collision and you are trapped in your vehicle. A passing motorist has alerted the police and the emergency services.

Although you can hear their sirens, and see the flashing lights, they do not get to you until much later. You pass out from loss of blood, but before you lose consciousness, you know the reasons for the delay.

It is not just that the road is congested. The rubber neckers have caused the traffic crawling.  The real reason for the delay is because the emergency lane is blocked by motorists. It is something you occasionally do, when you are pressed for time, and now you realise that it can be fatal.

The firemen have finally reached you, and have cut you out from the mangled metal. The paramedics have patched you up, stemmed the loss of blood and stabilised you. Their task is to get you to hospital for surgery.

You are aware of the sirens blaring but you are not moving. You curse the drivers who have hogged the emergency lane and pray that you get to the hospital before you die.

Are Malaysians selfish? When you are travelling on the highway, how many times do you see a clear emergency lane?

On almost every trip you make, there is at least one vehicle on the emergency lane.

The road abusers who drive on the emergency lane, especially when it is peak traffic, are just as bad as the people who hog the fast lane, and prevent other people from overtaking.

The public transport system in Malaysia is bad, and people are forced to use their own vehicles to get around. As a result of this, there is an extraordinarily large number of vehicles on our roads.

Drivers with bad traffic manners cut in, or refuse to let you through. Tensions are frayed, but does that justify using the emergency lane?

How would you feel if you were the person in the ambulance and had to be whisked to the nearest hospital to save your life? What would it take to change your mind about using the emergency lane on a regular basis?

The rules of the road are clear. Motorists must make way for emergency response vehicles, such as the police, ambulances, and fire engines, especially if they have their sirens blaring and their lights flashing. They are rushing along the road, to deal with an emergency. Why should you halt their progress?

Drivers are breaking the law, when they use the emergency lanes. In some countries,  drivers are not allowed to use the fast (overtaking) lane, to cruise down the motorway.

At the end of September, the combined effort of the public and the Road Transport Department (RTD), resulted in 2,522 errant motorists being served notices for breaking the law.

Between 22 May and 26 September, 800 members handed photographs  and videos of inconsiderate drivers abusing the emergency lands, to the RTD. Around 138 tip-offs were received for the period between Hari Raya Haji and Malaysia Day.

According to the RTD director, V Valluvan Veloo, the offending drivers received fines ranging from RM1,000 to RM2,000. He said that the worst offenders were from Selangor (755) and Johore (449).

Singapore registered vehicles need not pay their summonses; but the implementation of the Vehicle Entry Permit (VPE), which would bar Singaporean drivers from leaving Malaysia, unless their traffic summonses have been settled, will change this.

Valluvan has urged the public to continue posting videos and recordings of errant motorists on aduantrafik@jpj.gov.my. He said that they informers should include their names and contact numbers, with their pictures or videos.

The stern action was taken as a result of a fatal accident in Ayer Keroh, Malacca, last May, when two brothers died because emergency vehicles could not reach them in time. The emergency lane had been blocked by seven motorists.

The authorities must act in good time, not as a last resort. If strict enforcement and proper procedures are adhered to, there would be fewer fatal coach accidents, or incidents such as the tragedy that befell the spectators at the go-kart race, in Kuantan, recently.

Mariam Mokhtar

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