Dashcams: Another Source for Enforcement


Let’s start with some interesting videos



The above videos, whilst may seemed impressive demonstrates how some morons rather endanger other road users so that they can have cheap thrills on the road. Why they can’t book the racing track for a day and burn rubbers to their heart’s content?

While the country may be buzzing with the findings by the PAC on 1MDB, the Citizen Declaration and now the “admission” from the Saudi Foreign Minister (is it?). For me, it is a foregone conclusion. It is rather pointless to talk about accountability, transparency and responsibility at this point of time. After all, it is now argued that putting signature on a formal document does not mean you know what is happening and as such you are not liable. Didn’t I say that the whole affair is a foregone conclusion? Now the focus would be on the upcoming Sarawak Elections and one hopes that the voters would be able to see beyond the sweet promises to do this and that and look at what is best for the nation in the long run.

Anyway if you have not been busy keeping up with the local political circus, you would have heard that the Government is fine tuning the enforcement of traffic laws in the country. Finally something worth the taxpayers money and time. Firstly as many of the “good things” that they have done in the past, they looked what they had in their pockets and decided to merge and RENAME them (effectiveness comes much later):-

The Automated Enforcement System (AES) will be merged with the Kejara demerit system and renamed as AWAS (Awareness Automated Safety System).

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai (pic), who disclosed this, said this was to ensure a more holistic approach to reduce the number of road accidents.

“Whether you pay your fines or not, your marks will still be deducted if you are found to have committed a traffic offence,” he said during an interview on TV3 last night.

(Source)

Hmmm, that sounded fair enough but it only addresses the punishment aspect of the traffic law and not the enforcement. Still, it is a start. If you are caught, you will be slapped with both fine and demerit points but you need to be caught in the first place. No word on increasing the number of AES cameras in this country – just 14 of them and I know for sure that most motorists well behave before they pass the AES camera and become a speed demon once they have passed it. What about drivers who are driving dangerously, abuse the emergency lanes, changing lanes without any indicators and use vehicles are not safe to be on the road (I even saw a police car last night without any rear nights on).

Then there was more news on the traffic law fines (which did not go well with the police’s earlier plans to increase the fine):-

The Ministry of Transport is proposing to reduce the rate of traffic summons from RM300 to RM150 for certain traffic offences, said its Deputy Minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi.

He said, however the proposal must be approved by the Cabinet and amendments to the Road Transport Act 1987 must be made before implementing it.

“It is still a proposal between the ministry and the government for certain offences with a certain time period given, for instance RM150 must be paid within six months, if they fail to do so, the amount would be increased, you delay, you pay more,” he told reporters at Parliament lobby here today.

(Source)

Seriously I don’t get the rationale to go soft on traffic law offenders by giving huge discounts, cooling off period, close of one eyes and reduction of the fine for some traffic laws? Didn’t they break the law in the first place? Didn’t they cause inconvenience to others (imagine the idiots who double parked and blocked the roads? We don’t have huge trucks to plough our way through) or those had posed serious danger to other road users (and themselves)?

One ex-IGP even went on to say this:-

Given the gloomy economic outlook with many Malaysians struggling with higher living costs and the threat of layoffs loom for many job sectors, the IGP’s threat to hit motorists where it hurts most – their wallets, seem like an inspired approach to tackle the perennial problem of traffic accidents and fatalities.

This move, as expected are not well received by the public saying that it is a burden with the current economy situation.

In a phone interview with Malaysian Digest, former IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan expressed his opinion that the move is untimely.“I think with the current high cost of living the suggestion is not relevant. Imposing higher fines now is like pouring fuel on a fire.” – Former IGP Tan Sri
Musa Hassan

“I think with the current high cost of living the suggestion is not relevant. Imposing higher fines now is like pouring fuel on a fire.

“Because it will cause resentment from the people,” he pointed out.

(Source)

Sorry to say this but the traffic fines are not taxes. It is not GST. It is imposed on people who break the traffic laws. If they feel that it is going to be a burden in this current economy situation then they should abide by the traffic laws, follow the speed limit, they should use the indicators when changing lane, they should drive responsively, blah, blah. No one forces the traffic fines down their throat. The opposition morons used to say the same thing.

The problem in Malaysia have always been enforcement, enforcement and enforcement.

I have wrote on enforcement in the past (no point repeating them again in detail here) and you can read them here:-

Some of the hardcore traffic offenders know that the enforcement is seriously lacking and it takes months or even years before the law comes to collect the unpaid summonses (by then, there will be a huge discount waiting for them). Some politicians will capitalise on the situation and argue that the fines / punishment are burdensome to the people and the whole strict enforcement would be on hold until further studies are made. This is the wrong way to do it.

Strict enforcement is the only way to do it.

Start off with AES cameras – so far it has been very effective and operates 24 x 7, rain or shine and it had done a good job to date (almost 2 million summonses issued). The present 14 AES cameras are simply not enough. Then the enforcement on the ground need to be revamped as well – if you break the law, you have to pay for the consequences.

In addition to AES, there is another source for enforcement – dash cams (either from law abiding road users or from the traffic offenders themselves). Look at the videos in the beginning post again. Don’t you think there is enough video evidence to book some of the thrill seekers who treat the public road as their own personal race track, oblivious of the danger posed to other road users? Start looking into this angle as well as another mean to identify traffic offenders and coming hard, very hard on them.

Don’t give discounts, don’t treat these traffic fines like some mandatory tax that is burdening some poor souls out there – it will not help to reduce number of traffic laws broken but instead will only encourage them. Besides, some of these traffic offenders are driving cars that costs more than what an average Joe earns the whole year.

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AES: Why We Really Need Them?


(Another fucking moron on the highway, the fact the idiot is getting too excited whenever he sees a high powered car is beside the point but with speeds in excess of 200 km/h with no cops in sight is clearly endangering other road users. This is where AES can come in very effectively – catching such idiots on camera 24 hours a day and in all weathers. Source: Youtube)

I don’t understand why some people failed to see that it is not an issue of profit but rather an issue of enforcement & road safety.

KUALA LUMPUR: The federal government and the concessionaires stand to collect RM51 billion from traffic summonses should all 831 Automated Enforcement System (AES) cameras are installed nationwide, said DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today.

He also criticised the system for enriching certain individuals at the expense of sorry traffic offenders, saying that no government would try to gauge profits from traffic summonses. “If we did something wrong, you summon us, no problem. But why when issuing summonses, certain individuals are getting profits…” he said.

(Source)

And in response to the above allegation, we have this reply:-

Abdul Rahim in denying allegations that AES operators, Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd and Ates Sdn Bhd were capturing images of traffic offenders for profiteering purposes said RTD had the authority to issue summons, not the operators.

He said the government had made certain provisions to control the profits of the AES operators. Abdul Rahim said the operators bore all the cost of supply, installation and maintenance of AES system as well as its upgrade, if necessary. He said the operators were willing to accept losses in the event of less summons issued due to positive changes in the behavior of road users or vandalism risks on their equipment and cameras.

(Source)

But before we go further, we also have this complaint in the papers:-

It was reported that 63,558 offences were captured by 14 cameras over eight days under the Automated Enforcement System (AES). Therefore, on average, each camera recorded 567 offences a day or one in every two and a half minutes. At this rate, a staggering 171,772,650 offences will be captured in a year when all 830 cameras are used.

Can the Road Transport Department issue such a huge number of summonses and are motorists willing to pay? Laws and rules are meant to protect the majority. If a huge number is penalised, then something must be wrong and ought to be changed.

Super cars are treated the same as jalopies as the cameras cannot discriminate between vehicles. Yet in most instances, it would be no more dangerous for a German car to cruise at 160kph than a 660cc car floating at 110kph.

(Source)

When it comes to enforcement, road safety and adherence to traffic rules & ethics, one have to wake up to 2 stark realities in Malaysia

One – we have a serious case of enforcement of traffic rules and this is largely attributed to the shortage of enforcement personals and higher priority and allocation of limited resources on more serious crime. It is a fact that the police cannot be everywhere at the same time and they have better things to do than to waste time and resource to chase someone who has been speeding. Something more effective is needed to address this and the Government has been trying to address this in recent times under its various measures in its NKRA for crime but it is clear that there is still plenty of work to be done before the general public perception of reduction in crime improves.

Two – we have a load of morons who are on the road on daily basis causing inconvenience and posing serious danger to other road users. Don’t get me wrong – they could be the best husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, boyfriend, girlfriend, co-worker, buddies, etc, very charitable, religious and helpful but when they are on the road, they can be a fucking idiot and a pain in the neck to others. And not surprisingly, a large number of them ride a motorcycle. And it does not take long for them to kick a big fuss (with the usual misplaced & lame excuses and often in collusion with opposition politicians who some are waiting to politicize anything under the sun when it comes to Government policies) whenever the Government announces stronger measures to enforce the traffic laws. Still remember when the RM1,000 fine was proposed and then cancelled? It is not an issue of education but rather care-less attitude.

(The basic flow of AES in Malaysia but it is not a perfect system – there is still room for improvement. Image source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com / TheStar)

AES or Automated Enforcement System is not something new. Seeing policemen with speed cameras / radars by the side of the highway has been a norm for many years now and we also had CCTV cameras in certain area of the traffic for monitoring and enforcement purposes. The old method of having a policeman manning the speeding camera has its weaknesses – one obvious weakness is that the policeman cannot man the speeding camera 24 hours and in all weathers (I personally have seen them “closing shop” when it started to rain and things get more dangerous for others). And it is a wrong allocation of resources –  why sit under the umbrella manning speed cameras for hours when the same policeman can be allocated to do street policing work or work on serious crime investigations?

So the mindless oppositions to the implementation of AES has really dumb-struck me. And the fact that opposition politicians joining in road offenders (hmmm, habitual offenders must really be feeling the bite now) in calling for the AES to be on hold is greatly missing the point. Yes, I agree that there may be an issue in awarding the AES contract to a selected few and perhaps there may just be an issue on the computation of the payments to the AES operators but that has nothing to do with the urgent need to have AES in place for enforcement of traffic rules. Politicians (from all sides) should stress the need for better and effective enforcement methods – one that will take out the man in blue from mundane enforcement work and into more important effective policing work.

They can still voice their concern on the implementation of AES but it has to be with the right focus and questions.

Enriching the Few Allegations

Lim Guan Eng’s contention that the system is enriching certain individuals at the expense of sorry traffic offenders is sorely misplaced. Firstly the system only works if there are traffic offenders. If no one breaks the law (existing laws and not one that was created out of the blue), no summons would be issued and no “individuals” would be enriched “unnecessarily”. It’s dumb to say that the system is designed to enrich only certain individuals (and not for enforcement of traffic laws). Secondly what he meant by “sorry” traffic offenders? If you break the law, you can utter all the sorry you want but at end of the day, you need to pay for the offence.

Rocky’s Bru in his post rightfully call some people including Guan Eng a moron and in this case, they are. Some people simply don’t just get it – AES burdens the traffic offenders, not the taxpayers (same case as the RM1,000 fine but then it was politicized and wrongly portrayed as burdening the tax-payers).

There is a proper place and time to politicize certain issues but not on the measures that actually enforces the traffic laws and one have proven to reduce accidents in a positive way. If these politicians who are opposing AES have a better way to improve the enforcement of traffic laws and reduce the number of fatalities, they should come forward with their ideas. Unfortunately there has been none to date except complaints and allegations on AES.

Educate, Not Punish?

Elsewhere some argues that AES is simply the wrong method deployed to educate the drivers who flaunt on traffic rules. They are arguing that educating drivers must be the priority of the authorities and the authorities should not be focusing on the punishment of the said drivers.

But this is where I don’t understand on why there is a need to “re-educate” the traffic offenders. Unless there some element of “duit kopi“, didn’t they go to driving school and sat for driving test? Have they now become way too stupid to understand that red light means stop or driving more than 110 km/h means the car is driven more than the regulated speed limit? Have they now become way too stupid to read the various warning posted by the authorities by the side of the road and continued to ignore them? If they are, then they should not be allowed to handle a vehicle in the first place (you did not see “Forrest Gump” driving a car, did you?)

You can focus on all the re-education that you want and until the fat lady sings perhaps but I can tell you now that nothing whatsoever will change. This is because the issue at hand is not due to lack of education (people are not that dumb) but rather it is due to attitude problem. These people know that due to lack of enforcement, they can get away with it. There is a clear lack of the perception of being caught and this is why some of the traffic offenders are repeated offenders and that is why AES caught 63,558 offences within one week. Imagine the number of offences committed in areas where the police are not around or AES is not in operation.

At end of the day, if nothing changes, alternative methods must be deployed especially when dealing with habitual offenders. Don’t bother to waste time with calls for education. Some morons will only change their ways when you hit them where it pains them the most – on their wallet, when their driving license is cancelled and when they are banned from driving. For some, punishment can be a powerful form of education too.

(The use of ANPR or Automatic Number Plate Recognition in the UK to detect and remove serious criminals, unsafe vehicles and unsafe drivers from our roads. Yes, they actually seize the car in addition to giving the driver the summons. In Malaysia, we are still being soft on criminals on the road – we don’t seize the unsafe or uninsured vehicles on the spot. Source: Youtube)

Big Car, Small Car Distinction

“Super cars are treated the same as jalopies as the cameras cannot discriminate between vehicles. Yet in most instances, it would be no more dangerous for a German car to cruise at 160kph than a 660cc car floating at 110kph”.

So what? What is the writer’s contention? That the fat rich guy in the big car can break every traffic rules in the book but the poor guy in the small car must strictly adhere by the rules?

When the authorities set the speed limit on a certain length of the road, it is meant for all vehicles – small, big, expensive, cheap, etc. A German car that flies on the fast lane at 160kph kills the same and causes the same bloody mess as the 660cc car floating at 110kph. Technology makes a big difference in terms of safety and comfort to the occupant of the car but it should not make any difference in the eyes of the law. So stop making this big car, small car distinction – it does not any make sense as it does not make things safer for other road users. The treatment of the law must be equal on all.

Talking about speed limit, it is imperative that we need to have a comprehensive study whether the existing speed limits is reasonable given the current status of traffic, road condition and the types of cars that uses the road. If one stretch of road allows you to drive up to 110 km/h but at the very next corner, the speed goes down drastically to say 60 km/h, one need to study whether enough time, notice and room have been given for the driver to slow down to 60 km/h.

What Need to Focus on AES Instead?

We need the AES but in the same case of highways (we need them too), we do not want it to be turned out an economical burden.

We do not want the Government to end up paying millions of ringgit in compensation due to reduced number of summons collected or issued. It happened for highways too – we welcomed the construction of the highways and even know why we pay toll but what we question is the substantial increase in toll charges and the huge compensations paid especially when it is clear that there is also a substantial increase of vehicles using the highway. We question the toll concessionaires’ agreement which is shrouded in secrecy and attempts to view them are met with unbelievable opposition and threats.

We want the politicians to vet the AES contract with greater scrutiny and to ensure that the slip-ups that happened in highway concessionaires’ agreement do not appear in AES agreements. We do not want to end up paying higher summons rates or pay millions of compensation even with high number of summons issued. And this is what the politicians should be focusing on. Keep the implementation of AES intact but ensure that tax-payers money is well protected from any future compensation or bail-outs.

Then we have this:-

The two local contractors handling the Automated Enforcement System (AES) may have paid RM404 million more for the speed cameras.

Anti-Saman Ekor Campaign (KASE) legal adviser Zulhazmi Shariff said today that a Transport Ministry parliamentary reply indicated that the private companies implementing the project for the government, namely Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd and A.T.E.S. Sdn Bhd, had invested RM717 million in the nationwide project.

“From what we found from a filing to the Australian Security Exchange dated Dec 19, 2011, Redflex had announced that it has obtained a contract worth more than USD50 million (RM151 million) to install 450 fixed cameras and 140 mobile cameras for Beta Tegap,” he said, showing copies of the filings of both companies which he obtained online. For Jenoptik Robot, he said the company had announced that it was receiving USD53 million (RM160 million) to install 550 cameras for A.T.E.S. He said the price included implementation and comprehensive support for five years.

Zulhazmi, who is also a PAS member, said this totalled to about RM312 million spent, which was RM404 million less than the RM717 the local companies had invested. “That would make the difference of RM404 million. Why such a high mark up price? “This is pure earning for these companies. Why didn’t the government buy these technologies directly?” he asked.

(Source)

The Government is saying that they or the taxpayers are not paying anything for the hardware and the implementation as it is outsourced to the 2 private companies (who will also bear the costs). So who cares if the companies paying more than what is needed – it is not our money in the first place but is there any implications on the computation of payments to the 2 private companies from the summons collected? Or worse, what happens if the Government is going to “reimburse” the companies at a later point of time for the same hardware? What is the amount we going to pay in the end? We are interested to know this.

(Traditional traffic law enforcement relies exclusively on the presence of an officer to observe violations and identify and cite offenders. Obviously, this limits the effectiveness of traffic law enforcement because police cannot be everywhere. An automated enforcement system fills this gap in enforcement. Source: Youtube)

But AES Still Needs Improvement

There are clear merits on implementing AES and issue of cost aside, AES on it’s own is not perfect and does not cover all aspect of traffic enforcement especially when it comes to enforcement on motorcyclists and heavy vehicles. At the moment, it only covers excessive speeding and running the red lights and it is a good start but it is not enough. A bulk of the fatality involves motorcyclists and a good number of them ride around without helmet, speeding off with any care for red lights, weaving in and out of lanes without any indicators and riding against traffic.

The truth is AES is not designed to work alone – that is very clear from the start. It is designed to work as part of a bigger, comprehensive enforcement system which involves the enforcement agencies and other sub-systems like speed camera, CCTVs and public information. We still need the police, RTD and the local authorities to do their share of the enforcement which includes mobile speed trap, road blocks and patrols. We also need to ensure the various databases from the various departments (police, RTD, National Registration Department, etc) are well integrated so that information is readily made available for all arms of the enforcement agencies any time, any place.

At end of the day, we just want to drive from A to B without the need to be fear or be inconvenient from other road users. As such, we need systems like the AES to be widely used to stem the abuse of traffic rules. And it was good to know that the Government are strict on implementing AES and will not back off from the unfounded oppositions to AES for the time being. That is what all traffic law abiding road users wants also, I am pretty sure.

Snipers & Helmet-less Idiots


I am not sure whether further toughening of the existing traffic laws would make any difference to the current statistics without a proper follow up with the enforcement of the said laws (or by some miracle, a change of attitude).

Read this:-

The maximum fines for three traffic offences were proposed to be increased because such violations caused many road deaths, said the Road Transport Department (JPJ). JPJ deputy director-general Datuk Ismail Ahmad said Tuesday the three traffic offences – driving without a licence, exceeding the speed limit and ignoring traffic signals – also resulted in many cases of injuries and damage to public property.

The Bill also proposed for a minimum fine of RM300 to be imposed for the three offences, as well as for failing to display a vehicle registration number according to specifications.

However, he said traffic offenders can be hauled up to court if they repeat violations as often as three times in two months. The Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2012 seeks to increase the maximum fine from the current RM1,000 to RM2,000. The proposed amendment also seeks to increase the maximum speeding fine from RM1,000 to RM2,000. It proposes to increase the maximum fine for those who ignore traffic signals from RM500 to RM2,000.

(Source)

Last weekend I had to pass through the fucked up Kampung Medan to meet up someone and I will be going again this week (you see, I have no other choice – there are still good people living in this area) and despite the road safety awareness campaign on the media and call for stricter laws, there are too many idiots on the road riding around without any helmets and some of them riding on the wrong side of the road as well (most of them are young, foolish as usual with their equally idiotic parents allowing them to do so).

After narrowly missing hitting a helmet-less idiot on a motorcycle who was riding on the wrong side of the road (and who had the cheek to horn me to move away from my legal lane), I expressed my disappointment (and anger) on the enforcement agencies that seemed to have conveniently missing from the “scene of the crime”. My wife wondered the same – where are the police and RTD officers manning road blocks, confiscating the motorcycles and throwing these idiots into the windowless detention cells? Where is the enforcement? After all, these idiots would not have been too brave to be riding around with heavy traffic all around wearing shorts & flip-flops and not wearing any helmets if there has been a serious crackdown from the enforcement agencies in this area.

(Wearing the right gear and riding responsibly is what makes the difference between a good sensible motorcyclist and an idiot on a killing machine. Not having enough money to buy the right gear is not an excuse and unfortunately the Government too have been rather lax in enforcing motorcyclists to wear the right gear when they are on the road – a typical 1st class facility, 3rd world mentality. Image source: Google Image)

Perhaps enforcement by the police & RTD has been done but it is clear that it is not enough and more importantly, is not done on a regular basis. Perhaps the enforcement agencies have done all they can and have despite everything they have done, nothing much have changed. So even though the Government is proposing to increase the fines for traffic offences, without proper and regular enforcement (or other stronger measures in place), there is nothing much, they can do in getting the road users to abide by the said rules. The Automated Enforcement System may be helpful in some areas but we have yet to see the effectiveness of the system and unfortunately it does not cover all types of traffic offences (including traffic offence of not wearing a helmet).

What else can be done? We see helmet-less idiots in other places as well and they remain stubborn as ever and continues to be a nuisance and dangerous to other road users.

As I was driving back feeling angry and frustrated as these idiots continue to weave in and out in front of my car, an interesting (or rather a very nasty) idea came to my mind. If I had the powers, this is what I would do – it is simple really:-

Just get the army’s top 5 snipers and place them hidden around the area with a simple instruction – pick any idiot who is on the motorcycle weaving in and out of traffic and without any helmets and take them out with one clean shot to the head.

And they should be doing this the whole day until no idiot is left to be riding around without any helmet and everyone has wise up and start wearing the helmet. A couple of days later, unannounced, the whole process should be repeated again (because by now some idiots would go back to their usual ways thinking the enforcement have stopped). Trust me, after a couple of unannounced sniping, no idiot would dare to venture out on motorcycle without any helmet – a long outstanding and nagging problem solved immediately.

And once this has shown its immediate “success” in the lawless Kampung Medan, such programs should be be expanded to others areas (namely residential areas) where idiots on motorcycle is a norm. And over a very short time, seeing an idiot on the motorcycle weaving in and out of the traffic without any helmets would be a very rare thing.

In the end, it is just a wishful thinking – it will not (I won’t say never) happen of course but we need to do something serious about people who break traffic rules on a regular basis and without any care or thought on other road users [read here on what I think the Government can do to ensure motorcyclists keep themselves and others safe whilst on the road]

I have seen people riding around without any helmet in many places including my residential area but it seems to be at worse scale in Kampung Medan and the surrounding areas (if you drive through this place, you will know what I mean). And I am only making it as an issue because I have drive through the same place in recent times and in both occasions I nearly knock down an idiot on the road even though I kept to my lane and followed the prescribed speed. I don’t really care whether that idiot in the end dies or seriously maimed for life (which probably make my day) but I do not want incur unnecessary repairs cost, time and nuisance  due to other people’s stupidity and recklessness.  You don’t want the same, I am sure.

So, now how soon we can deploy those snipers?

AES: Asking the Right Questions


UPDATE 1: Read FAQ from JPJ on AES here

Back to the original post

Oh dear, another opposition politician jumping to defence the criminals on the road…

(It’s about time – a simple flow on how the Automated Enforcement System works. It covers speeding & beating the red light offenses but what about other types of offenses like road hogging, cutting in and out of traffic without any proper indication, riding around without wearing any helmet? When we can have a similar automated enforcement system for it? Image source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com / TheStar)

The Barisan Nasional Government in awarding the Automated Enforcement System (“AES”) Project to Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd and ATES Sdn Bhd whereby the two private companies in return for installing cameras in 831 locations will be entitled to a share of fines, of which fines for unpaid traffic summonses for 2000 to 2009 amounted to RM5.8 billion, has created a situation where there is a conflict of interest amounting to gross derogation of the Government’s duty to promote road safety.

Under the business model the companies will receive a share of the fines on three levels. At the first level each of the companies firstly will receive RM16.00 for each traffic summons for the first 5 million summonses issued, for summons issued after 5 million the companies receive as the second level payment 50% of the balance of the summonses up to RM270 million per year and after RM270 million they receive further payments at the third level of 7.5% of the balance of the summonses. The companies’ internal projection is that they will achieve an internal rate of return of 17% based on 10 million summonses issued each year.

Revenue tied to summonses issued

By reason of revenue being tied to the number of summonses issued, the business model for the two companies and Ministry of Transport will depend on ensuring that the number of speeding violations must not be less than 10 million each year and if they are to increase their profits and growth over the years the number of speeding violations must by necessity be increased accordingly.

The Government in turning the issuance of traffic summonses into a business for the maximization of profits has derogated from its duty to promote road safety. This is because if motorists keep to the speed limits these two companies will not be able to make any profits. Since business profits are contingent on a minimum number of traffic summonses being issued this model is incompatible with any programme to promote road safety and reduce speeding. There is thus a serious flaw in this AES Project.

Don’t maximise profits from summonses

The Ministry of Transport should not be looking to traffic summons as a profit center. The Ministry of Transport should be looking towards a study whether the speed limits are too low in the light of modern highway design. The ministry should be looking at ways to reduce speeding and road accidents.

An example is the police programme such as Ops Sikap. Road safety is improved by the physical presence of the police where a friendly warning not to speed is more effective than an injudicious mechanical taking of pictures by hidden cameras. Not all speeding is wrong. The police has on many occasions assisted motorists by acting as outriders for drivers rushing someone to the emergency ward of a hospital. The automatic cameras in the AES when implemented not only cannot assist but will issue summonses to every ambulance and fire engine rushing to save lives and property.

Money-making frenzy

This privatization of traffic summonses is an example of the Barisan Nasional Government having lost sight of its duties to the people in their feeding frenzy to make money out of every conceivable aspect of government.

I ask the Prime Minister to review this AES Project because road safety cannot be compromised and should not be turned into a business venture.

In a related matter, Dr Chua Soi Lek in his capacity as President of MCA has denied that Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd or ATES Sdn Bhd is linked to MCA. However, this project was mooted and implemented under the watch of three Ministers of Transport, all of whom are from the MCA.

I ask Dr Chua and Dato Sri Kong Cho Har, the present Minister of Transport to disclose the date this AES Project was awarded and whether the directors or shareholders of these two companies are known to the Minister or Ministers concerned.

William Leong Jee Keen is the PKR Member of Parliament for Selayang

(Source)

Leong may be harping on the wrong tree but before we analyze what Leong is saying, let’s get some facts right.

Firstly, no amount of sweet talk and soft approach will ever change the way Malaysians behave themselves on the road. Some will remain hard-core bastards to the end and they will only change once you whack them hard with a thick cane. You don’t have to go far to see these bastards in action – just count how motorcyclists riding around in your neighborhood without wearing any helmets. Strict enforcement of the law is the only way to ensure less traffic offenses committed on Malaysian roads.

Secondly, we lack an effective mean of enforcing the traffic laws. Yes, we have the police but then again, as we have seen in Ops Sikap year in, year out, we cannot expect the policemen to be around everywhere all the time and the moment the eyes of the law is nowhere to be seen, this is when the traffic laws gets abused. And it has been abused on a regular basis for some time now.

Automated Enforcement System (“AES”) should resolve this shortcoming in many ways. And there are another benefits too – by outsourcing the enforcement system on traffic offenses and verification to issue summons to private companies, the police would be freed up to do other more critical policing work. It may save them some infrastructure and logistics costs too.

Leong is contending that because the revenue of the private companies is tied to the number of summonses issued, the number of speeding violations need to be maintained not be less than 10 million each year and if they are to increase their profits and growth over the years the number of speeding violations must by necessity be increased accordingly. In other words, he implies that the number of speeding violations will be increased arbitrarily just to ensure profitability of the private companies remain unchanged and because of this, the focus of AES has gone awry. He also claims shortcomings of the AES (even before it is implemented) – that AES when implemented issue summonses to every ambulance and fire engine rushing to save lives and property. Really?

Yes, it is possible to some extent but then again, we should look at it from another point of view.

By tying the revenue of the two companies handling the camera installation to the number of summonses issued, aren’t we just ensuring effectiveness of the AES since a defective installation and poor traffic offense verification will mean less summons issued and this in turn translates to lower revenues? And by entitling a share of the fines in return for installing cameras, doesn’t this mean that the Government can opt to forgo using taxpayers funds for the installation of the cameras since these payments will now come directly from the traffic offenders?

On the onset, it does look like a win-win situation. So, instead of making general statement that the BN is out to make a profit from traffic summons and the wasteful plea to look at soft ways to reduce speeding and road accidents (Leong is really wasting his time here), Leong should be asking these questions:-

1. What is the scope of work? Will it be just installation? Or does that also include maintenance, summons and payment processing and other services as well? Are there any hidden commissions involved and we are getting the best price in the open market for that given scope of work?

2. What is the strength of the two private companies in installing the cameras for AES? It does not matter if they are directly or indirectly linked to BN but we need to know if they are competent enough to handle the enforcement system or are they going to outsource or sub-contract the work to another company and enjoy the free ride in return? What is their expertise in handling the enforcement system? What is their track record? How they were selected in the first place? Was it through an open tender or based on some kind of strict evaluation?

3. What is the detail of the payment structure? For summons issued but not collected, where the Government intends to get the funds to pay the companies the first 50%? Note that RM16.00 is to be paid for each traffic summons for the first 5 million summonses and this itself works out to RM80 million.

4. Assuming the installation cost (and surely maintenance cost) has been worked out, for how long we allow the two companies to take a share of the fines when it should be passed to the Government as an alternative source of income?

5. What is the term of the “concessionaire contract”? Has the terms of the contract been vetted through strictly to avoid the recurrence of the lopsided terms that now haunts toll concessionaire contracts? Is there any term that will allow the Government to restructure the payment terms in the future? Is there any penalty clauses incorporated to ensure that the private companies does not short-change the Government on the quality of camera installed and workmanship of the camera installation?

6. What if the projection of the summons issued (to meet the installation & maintenance cost) falls short in the coming months? What if by some miracle, Malaysians decided to behave themselves on the road and the number of summons issued drops drastically? Since the revenue of the companies is tied to number of summons, are we going to subsidize the companies for their “losses”?

7. What are assurances that the traffic users sensitive information is safe-guarded from any unauthorized party?

These are some of the questions that Leong should have asked in the first place. And wrongly branding the collection traffic summons to profit frenzy is not the right direction that we suppose to head when it comes to dealing with stubborn traffic offenders and when we are serious about reducing the fatalities on the road.

Yes, we are aware that privatization and outsourcing in the country at times riddled with cronyism, monopoly, abuse of public funds and lopsided agreements but that should not stop us from seeing the bigger picture which is to enforce the traffic law and reduce road fatalities in this country. We desperately need the automated enforcement system and we need it to implemented it to be highly efficient, strict and without any favors to the stubborn traffic offenders on the road. Let’s start with the right objective and questions in mind.

Pesky Motorcyclists Part 2


Read Part 1 here

essential-motorcycle-gear_5180e6ad79220_w1500

(As I said it before, it does not matter if you are riding a 50cc bike or a 1500 cc bike. When you fall, your head and your skin suffers the same. No matter what you ride, proper riding attire is a must. Image source: http://www.ridesafebacksafe.co.uk)

In case you missed, this was in the news a couple days ago:-

About RM9bil, or two percent of the Gross Domestic Product of RM528bil in 2010, is lost annually from accidents.

Kong said, based on police statistics, the death rate among motorists and passengers from January to September this year had dropped 4.2 percent compared to last year.

“For pedestrians, it dropped by 14.6 percent, bus drivers and passengers, five percent, while for van drivers and passengers, 24.1 percent,” he said.

However, he said the death rate for the motorcyclist and pillion rider category had gone up by 5.4 percent.

(Source)

Surprisingly on the same day when this was on the news, I almost hit an old aunty on a motorcycle. She was on my left at a junction and when the lights turned green, she swiftly cut in front of me and before I shouted “….toot….” (Fill in the blanks for any vulgar words), she made an illegal u-turn (causing the cars on the other lane to slam on their brakes) and disappeared. If I have not been too distracted by my son tweaking on the song selection on the car mp3 player, things would have been much different for this old aunty and my car (and it being a rural area, it would have very likely the blame for the accident would have fallen on me and that is the last thing I want after this happened).

(Since 1985, fatalities has been on the rise and it seems we are at lost on what we can do to bring the numbers down. Source: MIROS)

(No doubt, we can easily blame the rising fatalities on the rising number of motorcycles registered but have we seriously looked on whether we have lacked in some areas like enforcement and training?. Source: MIROS)

In 2010, statistics show that whilst death rate has fallen for all other categories, it has increased when it comes to motorcyclist and pillion rider and it is not a big surprise. In the same year about 4,067 motorcyclists died and this alone represented more than 60% of the 6,745 road fatalities (based on statistics provided by MIROS)

Lack of enforcement (classic incident like this where no action taken despite breaking of 2 laws), non-existence for the need to review road tax or some form of periodic check (missed opportunity to blacklist repeated offenders) and cheap cost of motorcycles (which made it easy for anyone to purchase them) and it being small and easy for these motorcyclists to weave in and out of traffic (at times with blatant disregard for rules and need to have proper gap between them and other traffic) and of course making illegal u-turns whenever they deem fit. And there is always the eye-sore of seeing young idiots riding around in residential areas without helmets.

So, seeing the jump in deaths of motorcyclist and pillion riders in 2010 is not a big surprise – expect the same in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and beyond unless we get down hard and wrestle this persisting problem by its horn.

There are a couple things that the Government should seriously look into if they are indeed serious in getting the number of deaths for of motorcyclist and pillion riders to start falling in the coming years. These includes:-

1. Stringent enforcement – no “ifs”, no “buts”, no “we will study first” – when the police see any idiots riding around without helmet or valid license or riding against the traffic, they should be stopped and the motorcycle confiscated or held up until a hefty fine is paid. No more sweet talks, no more pat on the shoulder and say “next time”. There must a real fear that if one breaks the law; the long arm of the law is going to get them one way or another. If, as the usual maybe, the offenders ride away before they can be stopped, the motorcycle registration number need to be noted down so that it can be traced.

2. More undercover patrols in well known “lawless” areas should be increased. If these offenders do not know when and how they are going to be stopped, there is high chance that they will be more careful not to break any traffic rules. More undercover patrols also mean more frequent enforcement. To some extend “Automated Enforcement System” will be helpful in remote enforcement but there is still a large area where AES may not be able to cover. Thus undercover patrols would be useful to bridge the gap in areas where AES may be lacking.

3. Whilst it will be difficult to incorporate motorbike lanes on the older roads and smaller trunk roads, the Government should look into modifying and expanding the emergency lanes for motorcyclist use (of course this means other road users cannot abuse emergency lanes) and ensure that they stick to these lanes – away from the heavier traffic where these motorcyclists often ends up as a menace or be endangered by other heavier and faster traffic. With dedicated motorbike lanes, it will be safer for motorcyclists as well. At the same time, the existing motorbike lanes (like the one along the Federal Highway) need to be widened and improved so that more motorcyclists would be encouraged to use them more often.

4. Training for motorcyclists should be revisited with more emphasis on observation of traffic rules and safety instead of skills only. And to ensure that motorcyclists are kept trained and reminded of traffic rules and safety aspect of riding a motorcycle, make the motorcycle license subject to bi-yearly renewal – riders must pass riding test before they are allowed to continue motorcycles. This way, whoever failed to pass their riding exams, will not be able to ride motorcycle whilst at the same time, ensuring that one is competent enough to handle a motorcycle on public roads. Size and price of motorcycles should not be used as an excuse to take things lightly – it deserves the same due care and expertise as one who operates a heavy machinery.

5. Training for other road users on motorcyclists. Whilst we are on the subject of training – there is little in the current training syllabus for other road users on how to react and respond to motorcyclists when they are sharing the same road. At times, there is little room for the motorcyclists to have enough room to ride safely on the road. And this is compounded by the fact that there is no dedicated motorcycle lanes in most part of the country. Realistically most of the other road users see motorcyclists as invading their space on the road and fail to provide the necessary gap for these motorcyclists. Some changes lanes without providing proper signals, failing to understand that motorcyclists (due to lack of motorbike lanes) rides between the existing 2 lanes.

6. Make proper riding safety attire mandatory. In Malaysia, there is no need for motorcyclists to ride motorcycles with proper safety attire – all is required from them is to wear a flimsy helmet (and not all are SIRIM approved) and nothing more. Make them mandatory – wear proper gloves, leather jacket and proper riding boots and these are things that make a big difference when you are involved in an accident.

One may say that the Government already facing problems to even get these motorcyclists to wear their helmets, what more of other part of the attire. But if you think about it, is it laughable that despite the increase in number of deaths, we have not really tighten the loopholes in enforcement and training – we must start off in the right footing and follow up with the right enforcement and in time, it will not be so difficult to get proper attire to be the norm

It is a fact that motorcycle is cheap and is a very convenient way to move around – I know, I rode motorcycle to work for a good number of years – I rode a kapchai for years but although it was a very small bike (if compared to those big superbikes that one sees on the highway), I have learned over time that personal safety should never be comprised – good helmet, tear proof motorbike jacket and leather gloves and in the same flow, abide traffic rules and safety. And I don’t see why these simple steps cannot be strongly promoted with the backing of relevant laws and strict enforcement.

RM9 billion loss is not small amount – it is affects the nation in many ways too. Can we for once wake up and start looking into this national problem and start pushing the numbers down?

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Ops Sikap: Attitude vs Enforcement


UPDATE: Good to hear that the police is going all out for those who is speeding on the roads. Hopefully they will find better ways to crack down pesky motorcyclists and enforce the law on those who change lane without putting on the indicators, abuse the emergency lane, hog the roads, etc

Back to the original post

(Caught this video back in 2008 of those who abuse the emergency lane – nothing have changed in 2011. Will we see change of attitude in 2012?)

Read Part 1 & Part 2 first

I thought of replying it under the comment box but looking at the length of my reply, I might as well put it as a reply post:-

Hi Visithra

Thanks for your comments – it is heartening to know that the authorities do take the enforcement serious

I think everyone (me, you, the authorities, etc) do agree on one thing – there is a serious attitude problem with fellow Malaysians when they are on the road (it is the same in every other country as well). I have been saying the same thing too. And I am not saying that that the authorities are not enforcing the law at all but the problem is that they are not doing enough to enforce the law (I will come to the part of “what the solution, then” shortly).

In relation to attitude problem, you ask “why can’t we change?” Good question there but unfortunately there are certain things you can do to call people to change their attitude when they are on the road – organising safety talks, campaigns on mainstream media and public areas, compilation of statistics, etc but it will come to a point where these “soft approach” had done its part. If nothing much changed positively (as evident from Ops Sikap 24 statistics and your comments that no matter what you tell them they go back to doing the same thing), it is high time for the Government to take stronger measures.

It is up to you to advocate the continuation of the soft approach – participate in road safety campaign, give out free helmets (which probably ends up on the motorcycle basket rather than on their head), etc and hopefully one day these road users will see the light at the end of the tunnel and change their attitude.

But seriously, don’t you think that the Government have been doing that for donkey odd years? It may have moved a small percentage of them but a bulk of them seemed to have remained stubborn and unmoved. If this soft approach has been effective, wouldn’t it have worked – even if number of vehicles on the road sky-rocketed? That is my point preciously. Let’s have a look at the statistics (you can “google” them for the sources):-

Deaths in Ops Sikap 21 = 241
Deaths in Ops Sikap 22 = 218
Deaths in Ops Sikap 23 = 199
Deaths in Ops Sikap 24 = 289

Summons issued in Ops Sikap 23 = 167,868
Summons issued in Ops Sikap 24 = 133,808

After the end of Ops Sikap 24 which saw a huge increase of fatality (if number of cars to be blamed, shouldn’t deaths in Ops Sikap 21 – 23 be increasing as well?), it is obvious that they need to relook into these soft approaches and revamp the whole strategy. It is ok if those with serious attitude problems go and kill themselves in road accidents but it does not happen that way – it affect others as well directly or indirectly. It impacts the family, other innocent road users (who were at the wrong place and at the wrong time), and the country as whole.

Just a couple days ago, I witnessed a bus with full load of passengers streaming down the highway at more than 120 km/h weaving in and out of the fast lane – it must be someone’s lucky star that it did not hit anyone and end up killing someone on the road. So how we are going to prevent a repeat this incident? Send all bus drivers to road safety seminar and hope that they will drive safer the next day? Given the fact that bus drivers are driven by the economics of trips per month, I have my doubts that soft approach will cause bus drivers to be slower on the roads. What else can be done?

Let’s say the authorities are indeed serious in enforcing the law but having a problem of unable to be everywhere at the same time – the question is what they are doing about it?

In my last post, I talked about the need for road safety operations to be conducted all around the year (road safety operations here does not means road safety seminars in some posh hotels). And I made my share of the noise when they canceled the plans to increase the fine to RM1,000 – that should have been introduced for hardcore road offenders. Then there were talks of “Automated Enforcement System” at certain hot-spots – are they widening the scope of enforcement? What about those traffic cameras that snaps the photos of those who jump the red light? Surprisingly I don’t see them anymore in most of traffic lights where jumping the red light is a norm.

Most fatalities happened on federal and smaller roads and here, it would be harder to monitor but that does not mean the traffic laws cannot be enforced especially when seeing a motorcyclist on public roads without any helmet. Of course, there will be issue of manpower and resources but the starting cost for these can easily off-set from the summons collected from the traffic offenders and relocation of resources from other areas (as how it is done in battling other crimes with more policemen deployed on the streets).

On my part, whenever possible, I snapshot of those abuse the traffic laws (in particular the emergency lane) and sent them to JPJ for their further action for I believe call for attitude change is a waste of time. If the authorities provide some good incentive for people to be their eyes and ears in catching the road offenders in their act, I am pretty sure that there will be more people helping the authorities and the level of enforcement would be more effective.

These are just some of actions that the government agencies involved in reducing the number of fatalities could do. Such measures are NOT new and I am sure, is not something that they have not thought about. So, what’s stopping them from enforcing it?

I am not saying that we should stop the soft approach completely – there are still new, inexperience drivers coming on board every year. Who knows, it may do good for some of them especially when it is done from school level and up. However, given the fact that the statistics of Ops Sikap 24 which saw higher fatalities compared to Ops Sikap 23, 22, 21, the authorities should also relook into the aspect of enforcement – PDRM & JPJ in particular (leave JKJR to focus on the soft approach). And they need to do this before start of Ops Sikap 25.

Thank you

Ops Sikap: Authorities Should Be Blamed Too


Update: I guess it is unfair to point the fingers at the police alone although they do handle the bulk of the enforcement since there are other agencies involved namely JPJ who handle licensing & training and JKJR who handle the overall coordination and road safety related activities

Back to the original post

(It looks like a plague, idiots on the road without helmet creating nuisance and endangering others – the worse ones even have young kids on the motorcycle. Image source: http://drhanie.blogspot.com/)

This was not a big surprise:-

The number of road accidents and deaths recorded under Ops Sikap 24 during the Hari Raya season was the highest since the operation was launched a decade ago.

A total of 289 people died in 19,606 road accidents during the 15-day operation which ended on Tuesday. Motorcyclists and pillion riders made up 179 or 62% of the fatalities.

There was an 18% jump in fatalities compared to 244 during last Hari Raya and a 16.5% rise in the number of accidents compared to 16,817 last year.

According to police who issued 133,808 summonses for various traffic offences during the operation, more accidents occurred on federal roads than on highways.

(Source)

Let me tell you about my experience when I was in the vicinity of the “lawless” Kampung Medan last week – it was a holiday, so we decided to visit someone here.

I was driving along the main road near Taman Sri Manja around lunch time – traffic was not so bad (due to the holidays) but I noticed something rather common on these roads – there are more motorcyclists riding rather dangerously (and oblivion to on-coming traffic) without helmets than those with helmets on. A large number of these motorcyclists, who been riding around without any helmets, are young. I am pretty sure a number of them are riding their father’s or uncle’s motorcycle possibly without any license or consent too (you still remember this idiot who was shot dead by the police last year?).

I encountered one idiot on the road – a lady with her brand new Hari Raya Baju Kurung with a lady friend as her pillion rider, both not wearing any helmet and busy chit-chatting while riding in the middle of the road, causing a mini traffic jam at the back. Such idiots without helmets whilst on the main road were not the first I encountered along the road. There were many more. Damn, what these idiots are thinking? That they are riding on some back lane in some remote village? That their soft skull is strong enough to withstand a strong impact on the hard pavement? That nothing will happen to them when they fall under wheels of a car?

I then exited the main street and cut into a smaller lane where I saw at the front, another motorcyclist, once again without helmet, weaving in an out of the two lanes. Even as I neared him, he was rather ignorant of the traffic around him and continued to weave in and out. Despite knowing all too well, I did something that often irked similar idiots on the road – I pressed my horns long and hard. It did the job – the idiot quickly moved over and I was able to overtake him safely. As I passing him, I saw him – another young kid (probably in Form 1 or 2) – no helmets, wearing a simple T-shirt and a short pants, flip-flops. He looked back at me, looking rather annoyed that his weaving in and out on public roads has been short-lived.

After I overtook him, I noticed him speeding up to catch up with me (being in the vicinity of Kampung Medan, I was expecting for a gang fight on the street). He overtook me and sped up and then continued with the weaving in and out of the two lanes. But because he was a bit far from my car (and thus no risk of an accident), I decided to let go this idiot to continue with his folly, postponing the “inevitable” for another day.

Now, let’s come back to the statistics of the recent Ops Sikap 24 – the police say that 62% of the fatalities are motorcyclists and there are more fatal accidents on federal roads (the vicinity of Kampung Medan counts as a federal road) than on highways. So, who is to be blamed?

The IGP says that “the main factor which leads to such mishaps is attitude”. I agree that at the end of the day, attitude is the main (if not, the only) consideration when it comes to road safety. Surely if those idiots that I encountered last week had a better attitude, they would have been wearing helmets and abide to the road courtesy and traffic rules. However, there are only certain things you can do to call for a change of attitude before you decide that enough is enough and it is time to take out the thick cane and give one hard on their buttocks.

Seeing idiots on motorcycle without helmet is nothing new especially when it comes to lawless areas like Kampung Medan. But the question is what the authorities are doing about it? I am very certain that if the authorities launches a major operation in this area and nab a couple or two idiots by their neck and confiscate their motorcycles for good, there will be more idiots ending up “seeing the light” and will start wearing helmets and hopefully abide to traffic rules.

The point here is enforcement of traffic rules. We already know that these idiots have attitude problems and despite reminders, safety campaign and strong threats, nothing moved them. Are we just going to resign by saying that “I am saddened by what has happened” and hope for a miracle (that will never come) to happen in the next Ops Sikap 25? I am sure the authorities are much better than that!

It is not enough that we give out summons for a few that was caught in the “net” and even this, does not guarantee that these buggers will not repeat the abuse of traffic rules (remember when things was that bad that the Government even offered some discounts on the summons?). And are we going to only put extra care during the holidays and when we have “Ops Sikap”s? Certainly not!

So, stop pleading for a change of attitude and start enforcing the law. And start with places where the traffic rules are treated worse than dirt. After all, the Government and by extension, the authorities have been “talking” about it since 2005! We do not want the number of fatalities to remain high especially when it involves other law abiding road users.

I say enough of empty talks…it is high time to take out the thick cane. Otherwise, one need to admit that the authorities is also contributing to the statistics.