I refer to the recent suggestion by the Transport Ministry to reduce the speed limits. This suggestion has come at an appropriate time for Malaysia. While international and domestic tourists are attracted by our great transport infrastructure, they are also aware of the problem of road safety in Malaysia.
According to the World Health Organization, speed limits are one of the most effective strategies in road safety. The probability and severity of road crashes are inherently significantly reduced by compliance to speed limits. In rural areas, the reduced “perception of enforcement” by road users, combined with the diminished traffic, encourages speeding. To make matters worse, the combined effect of lower compliance to wearing helmets and/or seatbelts and less accessibility to tertiary medical care for severe injuries leads to higher morbidity and mortality due to road crashes in rural areas.
Speed limits should be determined by individual road authorities based on traffic type/volume, road infrastructure, pedestrian usage and other factors. “One speed limit does not fit all roads.” Hence, MIROS has called for stakeholder discussions not just in cities, but in all localities. The process is a long-drawn one but it has significant hope to reduce the toll of lives on the road. Universities should take the challenge of playing a bigger role to facilitate such national deliberations.
Citizens and communities alike have a duty to respect and follow speed limits for the sake of their own safety as well as that of other road users.
Senior Professor Dr Krishnan Rajam, AIMST University
Former Technical Officer (Injury Prevention), World Health Organization