Air Bags & Road Taxes

Read these first:-

(Go buy a Proton instead – compared to a “more value for money” brands like Honda, Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Proton is using airbags from Autoliv from Sweden which does not have the same problem as Takata from Japan and is more reliable. Image source: LA Times)

One particular night a few weeks ago, I was driving back from work – the weather was good and the traffic was not so bad.

In front of me, a fairly new Toyota Vios – it has the rear lights working and I did not suspect anything. Then I noticed something amiss. Whenever the traffic slows down, I don’t see any brake lights lighting up from the Toyota Vios. Both the main brake lights and the third brake light were not working. So, when this driver slams his brakes and if you are at the back and you been driving too close, you will not know that the car in front had slowed down – you will likely to rear-end the idiot in front.

Considering the worst case scenario, I kept my distance before deciding that I cannot continue to play Russian roulette with the driver in front. I would never know when he will hit his brakes and I will be rear-ending him. I decided to overtake the driver and once I had gone ahead of him, I saw a middle aged man behind the wheels driving around without any care about other road users. It is obvious that he did not give a damn about the condition of his car too.

Don’t these people check their equipment before they head out? I periodically will check my lights – brake, indicators and fog lights even though the same is done by the mechanics whenever I sent the car for its periodic service.

It is a fact that there are way too many morons driving around with “defective” indicators – even for brand new cars (read my post on this). Defective brake lights are a bit rarer but then again, this is not the first time I see cars with faulty brake lights – they don’t seems to care if the traffic behind them would be alerted and to stop in time. It is another case of “Tidak Apa” which is very famous among Malaysians. Another case that compounds the sickness of this attitude is where the same lazy Malaysians wait till the last seconds before they act on it. You have seen this before – income tax submission, paying fines, changing to the new identification card, etc.

Case of “Tidak Apa” – that was the first thing that came in my mind when I read that the new Minister of Transport (bless the good man) decided to tackle this nuisance:-

Vehicle owners affected by the recall of faulty Takata airbags will not be able to renew their road tax until a replacement has been made, said Anthony Loke Siew Fook.

The Transport Minister said the new directive will take effect next Monday (June 4), adding that all affected vehicle owners must obtain a certificate from their respective car dealership to prove that they have changed their airbags.

Loke said that car companies involved in the global mandatory recall of Takata airbags must submit a list of vehicles which haven’t replace their airbags to the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

“We will input the list of all vehicles that have not changed their airbags into our system. I have also directed JPJ not to renew the road tax of these vehicles unless they replaced their airbags.

(Source)

In case you have kept your head in the ground, people have died from these faulty airbags and yet some people have been sitting on this time bomb as if it will not affect them. I know for certain Toyota and Honda had been making announcements after announcements and sending thousands of letters & notices and yet there are still plenty of the jokers still driving around with faulty airbags, waiting to blow and take half of their face off. Of course, they had their excuses – the service center had run out of replacement airbags, they had sold off the car to another (so it is no more their problem) or they have moved to another address (so they are not aware of the letters and notices).

For this, I have to say “Come on lah! The issue of recalls due to faulty airbag supplied by Takata is not something new”.

In fact, the issue with defective airbag was first raised back in 2013 and Takata eventually went bankrupt:-

In 2013, a series of deaths and injuries associated with defective Takata airbag inflators had led Takata to initially recall 3.6 million cars equipped with such airbags. Further fatalities caused by the airbags have led the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to order an ongoing, nationwide recall of more than 42 million cars, the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.

(Source)

The idea of stopping people from renewing their road tax until they get their faulty airbag fixed is the best idea that the authorities had implemented. Thank God we voted in the Pakatan Harapan government and we got new Ministers who at least think before acting. Of course, this idea of stopping people from renewing their road tax until they get their faulty airbag fixed did not go well for some people (I have to assume that it must be the same people who do things at the very last minute).

Interestingly the Minister is aware that some people are not happy with the decision – they say that this move is unfair and it slaps them that Pakatan Harapan government is the same in form as the previous BN government.

He plainly said this:-

“If they want to complain about me making their lives troublesome by having to go through a tedious process, let them do so. I would rather be complained at than visit another victim of an accident that could have been avoided in the first place,” he said

(Source)

I strongly agree with the Minister –further the previous BN minister did not do much to force this safety initiative on the defective air-bag replacement through.

Another argument is that the car manufacturers did not have enough Takata replacement air-bags despite the urgency. It is possible in the past but it is up to the car owners to keep pressing the car companies to keep enough stock and ensure their defective airbag replaced.

Just like any other defective parts in the car that impacts your personal safety – if your local car service center says that they don’t have the parts now, do you wait and consider the matter as solved? Or it will continue to bug you every second and you will look for another service center that may has the part? And even if they don’t have stock in place, it does not mean one should take a seat back and wait for someone to lay the red carpet, do they?

That’s why I would say that the Hons Minister’s idea of using the road tax renewal as a mean of enforcement tools to force the defective air bag as soon as possible is a brilliant one. Moving forward, I think it should be extended to those vehicles with defective brake lights too.

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