RECENTLY the nation was shocked by a very unfortunate tragedy that caused the avoidable deaths of five people who were burnt to death in a crash involving a trailer and a car at Km255.6 of the North-South Expressway northbound, near the Menora Tunnel.
Similar to previous incidents, the trailer driver's blood and urine tests revealed traces of amphetamine, methamphetamine, diphenhydramine and chlorpheniramine and he has shockingly accumulated a record of 31 summonses involving various traffic violations since 1999.
The driver has been charged with driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs under Section 44(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987, but unfortunately the operating permit of the transport company was merely suspended.
The Malaysia Consumers Movement (MCM) calls upon the government to similarly charge the transport company directors for negligence in allowing their drivers to drive under the influence.
It is their responsibility to ensure that the drivers are always in the best mental and physical condition prior to embarking on a particular commercial journey. Punishment must also be meted out on their apparent failure to pay up the accumulated summonses.
This will send a clear message to transport company owners that they owe an equal or higher responsibility to the public and that the regulatory authorities are serious in enforcing laws and regulations. Furthermore, the government must conduct a thorough root cause analysis on such tragedies.
The MCM believes that most commonly, drivers of public transport vehicles operate on per trip commission basis. More trips logged would translate into better income. This arrangement may force drivers to rely on stimulant drugs to keep them going, endangering innocent lives in the process.
Circumstances caused by road traffic accidents are always devastating, worse still when such a loss is avoidable. The pain for the victims' families is indeed unimaginable. Despite significant news coverage and calls for action from various interest groups, accidents continue to happen. It is time for concrete action.
Darshan Singh Dhillon
Malaysia Consumers Movement