Speed Demons on Highway 2


(There is always a limit to everything we do and a limit to speeding is there for obvious reasons. Slow down and you will live longer. Some idiots would never learn no matter what happens when one speeds over the speed limit on the highway)

Driving on Malaysian highways often promises a good story for this blog and it is the case for this week and one that deal with speed demons on highways. About 9 years ago, I had a close encounter with a speed demon and a recent trip north saw  another close encounter with another speed demon.

But first read this first:-

At least 37 people were killed when a bus in a mountainous area of Malaysia plunged into a ravine on Wednesday, the country’s Bernama news agency said, citing rescue officials. There also were 16 people injured, and they were sent to hospitals, the report said.

There were 53 people on board. Among the dead were Bangladeshi, Thai and Chinese nationals. The bus driver also died. The bus was descending from Genting Highlands when it fell into a 200-feet-deep ravine, Bernama reported. The incident occurred near the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

(Source)

Back in August last year, the country saw one of the worst accident relating to express buses. Before that, back in 2011, there was another horrible accident involving express/tour buses where 28 people perished. And beginning this year when it comes to express buses, it was not good news either:-

Three people died and at least 14 injured when an express bus they were travelling in crashed at KM107.2 of the North-South Expressway, from Pagoh to Yong Peng today. The bus driver was believed to have lost control of the vehicle, causing it to crash into a railing and landing at the side of the highway at about 2pm.

The Star Online reported that the bus was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Johor with 17 passengers, including a number of foreigners. Two men and a 10-year-old boy were killed while seven passengers suffered serious injuries.

(Source)

Last weekend, we had to do a quick trip up North and it was sort of a last minute decision.

My mother in law was not well and my wife despite postponing the call to go and visit her somehow knew that time was up to visit her mother. So instead of going during CNY when one can expect sheer madness on highways, we decided to go one week earlier and come back the very next day. The highway was almost empty and we actually had empty tables at the famed R&R. There was the usual big bike convoys dominating the fast lane and having little care for the 110 km/h speed limit. The same went to Singapore registered cars – they were driving on the fast lane like they were on a private race track. The same also went to those with luxury car where the RM300 ticket for speeding would hardly made any dent on their pockets.

It was not the first time I encounter them but I seriously think that some of the idiots who uses the highway should be barred from using vehicles for life. I mean if they are bloody ignorant of the law, then at least they should have some common sense. They would either drive above the speed limit like their back is on fire (or hog the fast lane) and when confronted with another faster vehicle, they would dash into the slower lane without sense of space or the courtesy to put on the indicators to warn the slower traffic on the left. Some would cut in too close for comfort, completely ignoring the fact that there is another vehicle on the slow lane.

Then towards Ipoh, we saw something that left us speechless. There was a car overtook us on the fast lane and I know it was driven above the speed limit (I was already driving at 110 km/h then). Following just behind that speeding car is a police car but that too is driven above the speed limit. Well, I am fine with that but what irked me was that the police did nothing to pull over the speeding car and give the driver a speeding ticket. Perhaps the policeman had a bad stomach ache and rushing to the nearest toilet. Perhaps. But then again, it sends the wrong message and if the enforcement agencies keeps one eyes closed, you can be assured that there would not be the end of fiery deaths on the highway.

The stay with the in-laws was pretty short (it usually do, ha ha) but enough for me to take a good break for the trip back. My wife had fulfilled her part of the obligation and that was good enough, at least for now. The next day as usual we decided to leave early to KL. My sister in law and her 2 year old daughter followed us back and since there was plenty of space in my car, we were more than happy to accommodate them. I hardly drove more than 90 km/h and kept to the 110 km/h speed limit at certain part of the highway. And with a good selection of songs in my flash drive, it was a relaxing ride back.

aeroline_speeding2

(It took mere minutes for these 2 buses – there is another in front of this bus – to disappear from my sight despite we were traveling at about 110 km/h)

Some kilometers before Behrang (about 11.20 am on Sunday), I noticed something on my rear mirrors – not one but two speeding high deck express buses (High deck just like the high deck bus where 28 people died back in 2011). Knowing on how they usually fly through on the fast lane (and sometimes on the slow lane, adding the risks to other road users), I maintained on the middle lane and I was already cruising at 100 – 110 km/h. The first bus (Aeroline) bus flies through on the slow lane and quickly cut into the middle lane, a few paces in front of me. The second bus came right behind my car in the middle lane and started to flash his headlights (if we has stopped, I would bashed his head for coming up so close, endangering me and my family and flashing his headlights like a big dirty bully). He was trying to bully me to move over from the middle lane but since it was not safe to move over, I continued to drive on the middle lane, hoping that the idiot would move over on the fast lane. After all, he was faster than me – both buses was flying at about 140 km/h!

I got my son to snap some photos to be passed over to JPJ (hopefully they will blacklist these drivers) whilst I concentrated on driving. And I was quite angry too. Not only the idiots were endangering me and other road users with their deadly driving, they were also endangering the passengers. But the, when I went to Aeroline’s website, I read the biggest joke from the company titled “Safety”:-

AEROLINE coaches are built on high quality imported Scania (Sweden)chassis. AEROLINE operates its very own dedicated maintenance facility that is manned by experienced mechanics to maintain the coaches to our own standards, by using only quality parts.

Furthermore, each AEROLINE captain is hand picked and undergo regular training and monitoring. With the aid of GPS tracking system, our command centre is able to monitor the operation of each bus in real time, thus ensuring every journey a safe one.

(Source)

Ya right, perhaps who ever wrote that “safety” statement should hand pick himself to take up a trip in their Aeroline buses where driving at more than 140 km/h and weaving in & out dangerously on a high deck buses meant nothing for these drivers. One wrong move weaving in and out of traffic or one tire blow out or encounter with one inexperienced driver and you will have another 20 – 30 passenger on the ditch and dead. No matter what the politicians, the bus company owners & management and the public may say after a tragedy, it will not bring back the dead. But unfortunately Aeroline is not the only bus company that I noticed speeding above the speed limit (but that does not mean they are not guilty of sheer recklessness). Another bus (from another bus company) just behind these Aeroline buses was also speeding at 140 km/h and was also weaving in and out of traffic. Within minutes, all these buses had disappeared from our sight as far as we can see up front.

And one main reason for this is because there is a serious lapse of enforcement. It is a fact that we fare badly when it comes to enforcement and it is not due to the laziness of the enforcement agencies. Sometimes the need for a stricter enforcement is curtailed, not by shortcomings of the enforcement agencies but rather due to the short sighted & (very, very) dumb politicians who flip-flops enforcement related policies on weak reasons and shout for all the wrong reasons.

This is where we have to relook into the implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) on a larger scale. This is where also, rather unfortunately, the Pakatan fellows failed us miserably – yes, initially there seemed to be some “questions” in awarding the AES implementation to the private companies but that was not the main concern here. It was clear that the Pakatan politicians were barking on the wrong tree and had been asking all the wrong questions. The main concern is to ensure a strict adherence to the traffic rules and AES would have provided that unbiased, all weather, 24 x 7 automated enforcement that the other enforcement agencies may not been to able to provide effectively.

And now, nation wide AES implementation seemed to be on hold and that is allowing more idiots to break the traffic laws on a greater scale. They know that they cannot be caught (forget the yearly Ops Sikap – one, it is done during major holidays when the highways are packed thus reducing the opportunity to fly like you were on a race track and two, these drivers know that the police is out there in a greater force to nab these offenders) . That is why on other “non festival” days bus drivers like the above Aerobus drivers do not hesitate for a second to drive dangerously on the highways and endangering others on the road. Some unlucky ones end up killing their passengers and the whole vicious cycles starts again.

And there is another aspect of strict enforcement, ahem, since Najib been going around saying that the Government does not enough money for subsidies and what not. The more drivers nabbed for violation of traffic rules (and trust me, you will get a truckload of them without a sweat), the more fines can be collected and these money can be re-used for critical Government expenses (flying the fat lady overseas in private jets however does not count).

Just imagine that in the first 1 week of the AES in operation, it captured 63,558 offenses (an average of one offense every two-and-a-half minutes). Even if you use a modest RM50 fine per offense (speeding ticket will cost RM300), the Government can easily collect RM300,000 per week. Imagine how much they can collect on monthly basis. That is a lot of money that can be used again to beef up enforcement (more AES cameras) and make the roads safer again. Insurance claims has not been cheap as well – “net claims paid out for bodily injury and property damage due to road accidents in the first nine months of 2013 have risen to RM4.1 billion, compared to RM3.68 billion in the same period in 2012”.

We may have one of the best highways in the region (we still do) but we also have the 3rd world mentality when it comes to using them in the right way and in a safe way. You can be rest assured that you going to have more buses speeding above the speed limit and more deaths from unsafe speeding vehicles if attitude and enforcement does not change.

Please keep this mind as you balik kampung this Chinese New Year. Enjoy the holidays and have a plenty of rest.

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Slow Down to be Safe?


(Which is better? Slowing down or enforcement of other rules like no queue jumping using the emergency lane? One of the morons that I caught on camera, abusing the emergency lane and creating more traffic jam upfront)

I am in a dilemma…

There is a family function to attend up North this week but considering the madness expected on the highways and byways in the next few days, I was wondering whether I should take the dip into the dip of madness as well. But if I don’t go the family function, well you know how it will end up when the next family function comes along. Anyway, I probably need to toss up a coin when it comes to decide the final decision.

Talking about the madness expected on Malaysian roads in the next few days, here is an interesting proposal from the Government on how they expect to lower the fatality statistics on the road:-

The reduction of the speed limit on federal and state roads by 10kph will be reintroduced during the Hari Raya period. The speed limit on federal roads has been reduced to 80kph from 90kph while state roads will now have a 70kph speed limit until Sept 6.

The speed limits on highways are not affected.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the reduction, first introduced in 2006, was aimed at reducing the number of road accidents.

(Source)

After the many bus accidents that caused the death of many Malaysians during the holidays and after many “bright ideas and proposals” by politicians who talked alot but who don’t do anything to get it enforced, the Government has now come out with this interesting “measure” to reduce the fatalities during festive season. But is simply slowing down means the roads are much safer now?

It is a fact that slowing alone does not mean you will be safe on the road. Simply because there are many other factors that contribute to fatal accidents. If one runs through this blog, you would have known some of the said incidents that I have encountered in the past few years.

Just this morning, I almost grazed another car on the fast lane when that idiot decided to change lane without putting up any indicators. And couple weeks ago, the same thing happen when a motorcyclist decided to cut in to the fast lane without any putting up any indicators or checking it was safe to cut-in in the first place. Not putting up the indicators when wanting to switch lane has been rather cancerous with Malaysian drivers. They seems to always think that fellow drivers is able to anticipate their every move and will simply give way when they suddenly cut in onto the path of on-coming car. It gets worse during bad weather – some idiots even do not switch on their headlights, making it a guessing game to accurately judge their distance (some idiots on motorcycle even do not have rear lights on a good day).

And what about the idiots that hog the fast lane, denying others who are faster than them to safely overtake them? How many of us who may have urgent matters to attend to, have encountered such idiots who seems to be enjoying a “leisure Sunday drive” on a Monday morning at peak hours on the fast lane? Don’t you feel like giving these idiots one hard slap on their face? Denied of the space to overtake, how many of us been forced to overtake these idiots from the left, sometimes dangerously whilst at the same time feeling angry and impatient – a feeling that lingers long after we have safely overtaken this idiot and arrived at our destination.

Then we have the famed idiots who at the slightest view of a traffic jam, cut over to the emergency lane and selfishly and arrogantly cutting queue. Where do we place these idiots in the aspect of ensuring that our roads are safer for rest of us? Traffic jams, sometimes also attributed to some slow road hoggers, is part and parcel of driving. It gets worse during the holidays for obvious reasons – too many cars on the road. You need to be patient and bid your time before continuing on to the destination. Everyone wants to reach their final destination as safe as and as fast as possible. Why should we give in to some idiots who simply don’t have the patience and is very selfish and arrogant? These idiots who quickly turn the emergency lane into their private lane to bypass other law abiding road users and by cutting in at the front (due to a broken down car or police block) causing traffic jam to be even worse.

There is a reason why an accident is known as “accident”. An accident is a specific, unpredictable, unusual and unintended external action which occurs in a particular time and place, with no apparent and deliberate cause but with marked effects (Source). It is “unpredictable, unusual and unintended” – no doubt about that since if someone causes an accident intentionally (by knowingly breaking the traffic rules) and it causes someone to die, then it is not known as accident, it is known as murder or in some cases, manslaughter.

TheStar reported that for past 1 week, 117 deaths have been recorded – with no surprise, 60% of them being motorcyclists (perhaps it is how God plays his card in reducing morons on the road). I am pretty sure a good number of them did not have their helmets on. The call to reduce speed limit is good but it is only effective when enforcement of other traffic rules and ensuring that the punishment for “those stubborn ones” to be severe enough that they will not break the rules again.

So, you want to be safe? Don’t only slow down (to the correct speed!) but also keep to the correct lane and cut into the fast lane only when want to overtake others and do so when it is safe to do so. Use the indicators as part and parcel of driving and use it all the time. And never abuse the emergency lane – you never know when you will be involved in a serious accident with your loved one pinned down under the wreck and your life-saver, ambulance is stuck behind your fellow emergency lane abusers.

Selamat Hari Raya and happy holidays…

Danger along Highway


(Seeing dead body on the road was not something I had in mind for my weekend entertainment. Image source: http://thezeph.wordpress.com)

I talked about it almost 2 years ago

And it finally happened last week as I was driving along LDP on a Saturday afternoon after a meeting with a friend and realised that there was heavy traffic jam. From afar, we can see the fast lane was blocked and the traffic moved from 3 lanes to 2 lanes. A police car was parked on the fast lane.

We saw couple of men behind the police car, measuring something. As we were crawled along, we saw a pair of legs on the ground in front of the police car. We drove further and saw a young man – looked like an Indonesian – on the ground with a bloody face and was not moving at all. He was dead. Along both sides of the highway, there was a huge crowd of Indonesians standing and watching the dead body. Perhaps it was their family member; perhaps it was their friend or working colleague.

But it was too late – the young man was dead and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

And yet, this is unlikely to be end of the story as I realised later – another idiot was waiting at the middle to cross the busy highway (he had managed cross one part of the highway and got stuck in the middle, waiting to cross the other part).

In the meantime, Malay Mail reports this:-

A pair of lovers was killed when the car they were travelling in crashed into a road divider at Km21.7 Kesas Expressway at 5.30am today. Selangor traffic and public order chief Supt Che Hussin Omar said Ng Kai Seng and girlfriend Wong Pao Wen, both 19, died of head injuries at the scene.

“They were returning home to Bukit Tinggi from Kuala Lumpur in a Toyota Vios when the car skidded, spun and crashed into the road divider.”The impact sent them crashing onto the road. The car landed about 200 metres away from the spot it crashed into a road divider at Km21.7.”

Che Hussin said initial investigation showed that the driver was speeding above the permitted speed limit.

Their remains were sent to Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital for a post-mortem. Police also took blood samples to test the alcohol level

Speeding over the permitted speed limit is one thing (the speed limit is lower than speed limit for North South Highway) but has the problems facing the highway itself been rectified?

In 2007, I wrote this:-

For anyone who uses the Kesas, look closely at the divider – it goes up and down. It is the same case on the road. You are virtually driving up a small slope, then down and sometimes the “up and down” is so sudden that you are bouncing through the air.

There is no warning at all for motorist to slow down or to watch out for sudden ups and downs other than the sporadic speed limit signboard. It is no wonder that when it rains heavily, the volume of water stagnant on the road is also heavy.

So, in other words, you can’t drive that fast in Kesas

We are not really sure whether Ng Kai Seng been speeding but if you think about it, driving at 81 km/h (Kesas has a speed limit of 80 km/h) is nothing too great compared to driving at 110 km/h along the North South Highway. But road conditions (and perhaps the weather) have been bad; it does not really need Ng Kai Seng to be flying in his Vios to get in serious trouble.

And from personal experience, Kesas can be very tricky at higher speed but here is sickening part to the whole affair – “driving above the speed limit” aside of course, we are paying through our noses for the toll for such a lousy and poorly constructed highway.