Hornbill Unleashed

November 9, 2016

Dummies in our midst?

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

According to a media report, an associate professor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia School of Psychology and Human Development advocates the use of dummy cameras, and women as enforcement officers.

The report described Dr Rozmi Ismail as a traffic psychologist specialising in experimental psychology, and former president of Malaysian Psychological Association.

He believes that having up to 10 fake cameras at crash-prone areas or traffic lights would boost road safety, and recommended that genuine cameras and dummies be placed 3km to 5km apart, so that motorists would be instilled the fear of being caught.

He thinks that women are “straight as an arrow” when enforcing the law and cited the case in Penang where three female officers stood firm while they were verbally abused by two traffic offenders after clamping the wheel of a vehicle parked indiscriminately.

He pointed out that women enforcement officers have shown they were always firm and do their job without fear or favour, whereas male traffic cops tend to be more lenient with offenders.

But what I have written on enforcement officers and road safety over the years were quite different from what the learned professor had advocated, as my views were based only on common sense and logic, and not backed by any data or worldwide research for road users.

In 2003, I proposed that the authorities hire ex-servicemen as camera crews to be stationed near traffic lights and at strategic spots along the highways to record traffic offences.

Unlike enforcement officers who hide behind pillars or bushes and wait for offences to be committed, these camera crews are to wear bright uniforms and be conspicuous to deter people from committing offences.

My proposal was reported by several English dailies and full-page in a broadsheet Bahasa Malaysia newspaper.

Had it been implemented, the number of motor accidents, injuries, fatalities, snatch thefts, illegal dumping, overloading, speeding, jumping red lights, occupying yellow boxes, unlawful use of emergency lanes, riding without helmets and illegal parking would have reduced by more than half.

And all these could have been achieved without costing the government a single sen!

Enforcement agencies such as the Royal Malaysia Police, Road Transport Department, Department of Environment, City Halls and Town Councils can appoint concessionaires to hire, train and equip camera crews, who will operate under strict guidelines.

The concessionaires are to be paid based on the evidence submitted and the fines collected more than enough to pay thousands of camera crews across the nation. For example in Kuala Lumpur, City Hall alone issued more than a million traffic summonses each year from 2013-2015.

On the contrary, static cameras record offences during the act. Many were not spotted by motorists and also doubtful whether they were in working order.

This changed with the introduction of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) in 2012, as the bright flashes of high tech cameras were easily noticeable.

But AES had to be suspended because of public outrage, as only two concessionaires were appointed to monopolise their allotted territories.

They could have raked in a fortune as 830 AES cameras would capture 171,772,650 offences in a year, based on the number of offences recorded by 14 cameras in their first eight day of operations.

As such, the government had to terminate and compensate the concessionaires. In January, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced that the AES will be re-implemented in March, with Boustead taking over the operations from the two concessionaires.

I then wrote that using dashboard cameras (dashcams) would be more effective than AES, as large number of motorists could participate using dashcams that meet the specifications of enforcement agencies and operate under strict guidelines.

Unlike AES cameras that can only record offences at traffic lights and speeding, the dashcams can also capture those misusing emergency lanes, reckless driving, tailgating, overtaking on double lines, obstructing traffic and parking illegally.

Again, rallying hundreds of thousands of motorists to participate in dashcam surveillance comes at no cost to the government. The enforcement agencies still retain their full powers to issue summons and collect fines, with the public roped in to complement surveillance in an orderly fashion.

Installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras in many places, such as convenience stores and petrol stations, have not prevented robberies. As such, it is doubtful that motorists will pay heed to static cameras placed along highways and roads.

In Oct 2015, my letter “Good manners a sign of excellent upbringing” complimented five ladies for their exemplary conduct, including the three Penang Island City Council enforcement officers mentioned by Dr Rozmi Ismail earlier.

However, the behaviour of enforcement officers are determined largely by the agency’s culture, which overrides gender, race and religion. Everyone will want to blend in as those trying to be different will stick out like a sore thumb.

The public’s perception of enforcement officers vary. For example, City Hall enforcement officers making their rounds are a welcome sight if business operators are summoned for preventing motorists from parking at public lots.

But when enforcement officers are out on collection rounds, they are loathed by many restaurant operators whose infringements are minimal compared to those that occupy five-foot ways and sidewalks with tables and chairs.

Should we add dummies to real cameras to curb corruption, robberies and accidents? For those who use trickery and red herring to fool others, the answer must be yes.

Source : Y S Chan@The Heat Malaysia Online


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