Motorbike accidents cost S’wak RM1.9 bln in losses


THIS ONE’S NOT UP TO STANDARD: Rano (third left) giving the thumbs-down to an old helmet belonging to a motorcyclist during the helmet exchange programme.

KUCHING: Sarawak recorded a loss of RM1.9 billion in social economies due to motorcycle accidents from 2000 to 2010, an analysis by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed.

The data used in the study is tabulated by the Road Safety Department Sarawak (JKJR) and handed to WHO annually and included losses from insurance and accident compensations.

“Sarawak recorded a total of 1,586 deaths of motorcyclists or their pillion riders within the year 2000 to 2010,” said JKJR state director Rano Alwino Akat yesterday.

The figure, he said, is 46 per cent of the 3,442 fatal accidents statewide.

“Road accidents is a very serious problem in terms of social economics and the spill over effect to the country,” said Rano prior to the flagging off of the Yamaha Trans Borneo Adventure 2011 at the Boulevard shopping mall here.

“Records have shown that at least 6,000 deaths are caused by road accidents each year,” said Rano adding that 11 out of the 18 fatal accidents in Malaysia involved motorcyclists.

He also said that according to Peryatim, from 2000 to 2010, a total of 300,000 children across Malaysia became orphans due to their parents’ death due to road accidents.

“Sarawak has suffered no less than 100 new cases of people becoming orphans, single parents and experiencing permanent disabilities due to road accidents,” said Rano.

To cut down the number of road accidents, Rano believes that education and safety awareness campaigns are the key methods.

This he admits, cannot be done within a day and said that long-term education is important especially at the grassroots level.

“The government launched the road safety and awareness campaign nationwide in 2007 to educate school children from primary one to six,” said Rano.

He hoped by 2013, the modules would be absorbed into secondary schools, universities and during national service (PLKN).

“With this sort of campaign, it is hoped that within the next 15 to 20 years, the number of fatal accidents in the country will be brought down,” said Rano.

Meanwhile, touching on the use of half-cut helmets by motorcyclists, Rano said that the problem begins
when the helmets are imported into the country.

“At the customs, these helmets are actually declared as ‘toy helmets’ which provides them clearance to enter the country,” said Rano adding that these helmets also came with a warning sticker displaying “Not to be used by motorcyclists” by the manufacturers.

Rano said that the public has the right to lodge a complaint to the Department of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumers Affairs (KPDNKK) if they found dealers selling such helmets.

He said his department would not take legal actions against those using the helmets as the jurisdiction falls in the hands of the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

To deter motorcyclist from using such helmets, Rano said that road safety awareness campaigns and the department’s helmet exchange programmes are the main keys used to emphasise the importance of using
certified helmets.