Last Sunday I read a news report in Berita Harian about a fatal accident involving a motorcycle and a lorry at Felda Bukit Aping Timur in Kota Tinggi, Johor. The motorcyclist, a 14-year old boy named Muhamad Azhari Hazrin was killed on his way to badminton practice at school.
Part of the newspaper report is reproduced below :
Pelajar maut nahas jalan raya
KOTA TINGGI: Kegembiraan seorang pelajar kerana terpilih mengikuti latihan sukan badminton bagi mewakili sekolahnya, berakhir dengan tragedi apabila terbabit dalam kemalangan di Kilometer 36, Jalan Lok Heng - Mawai, dekat sini, pagi semalam.
Muhamad Azhari Hazrin, 14, dari Blok 10, Felda Bukit Aping Timur, dikatakan dalam perjalanan ke sekolah dengan menunggang motosikal bagi mengikuti latihan sukan badminton di sekolahnya di Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Sri Aman, Felda Bukit Aping Barat, di sini.
Bagaimanapun, dalam kejadian kira-kira jam 8 pagi itu, mangsa yang menunggang motosikal sendirian dilanggar sebuah lori yang datang dari arah Mawai sebaik keluar simpang berhampiran Felda Bukit Aping Timur menyebabkan mangsa yang cedera parah meninggal dunia sebaik tiba di Hospital Kota Tinggi (HKT), di sini.
Ibunya, Aviah Mustafa, 37, berkata beliau tidak menyangka kegembiraan yang jelas terpancar di wajah anaknya sejak kelmarin berakhir dengan kemalangan.
The full article can be read at Berita Harian Online -> here.
The report included some comments from the victim's mother. But what it failed to question was how a 14-year old kid can be riding a motorbike on public roads when the legal age of owning a motorbike license is 16-years old. It would have been advantageous if the newspaper had highlighted this fact so that some parents can realise the risk that they take in allowing their underaged children to ride motocycles.
As it is, the mother has lost her only child needlessly. No amount of crying or regret is going to bring the child back. The parent is to blame as much as the son.
There are many such irresponsible parents up and down the country. They do not think twice in letting their young children ride motorcycles without license, insurance cover and even without wearing crash helmets.
My house is within a kampung area of Johor Bahru city and everyday I see so many kids riding bikes without wearing helmets. A few months back, I witnessed two teenage girls whose motorbike crashed into a car. They were not wearing helmets and I dare to presume that the rider does not have a license too. They flout the law simply because the act is seemed to be acceptable. They believe that since so many people are doing it, so why can't they. Such attitude is part of what's holding back Malaysia in the so-called `Third World' mentality.
I have many other gripes against motorcyclists. I know it is not appropriate to generalise but I have seen too many of such lax attitude to conclude that many motorcyclists value their life so cheaply. The following are some examples of such risky behaviour :
1. Crossing the red traffic lights just because there are no vehicles coming from the other side.
2. Using the edge of the road or sometimes the pedestrian footpath to ride against traffic flow.
3. Mothers riding pillion while carrying babies in their arms. In some cases, you can see one toddler squeezed between two adults. In extreme cases, there is an additional child riding in the front basket! More often than not, the adults wear crash helmets but the kids are helmetless.
4. Riding at night without tailights. Worse still, some ride on without headlights as well!
Tell me you have not seen some, if not all, of the examples I have mentioned above. And we all also know of this unique Malaysian phenomenon called `Mat Rempit'.
Our government has spent so much on Road Safety campaigns but fatal accident statistics continue to rise. Today's The Star Online reported on one such campaign -> here. Maybe it is time for the authorities to change their approach. The soft coaxing style does not seem to be working. Strict enforcement is probably the way to do it. Otherwise, the `tidak apa' attitude will continue to adopted till eternity.
One day, there will be a newspaper headline which tells of a gruesome motorcycle accident that killed two adults, a toddler and a baby. Perhaps then, our society will take this matter seriously.