MALAYSIA seems to hold a record of sorts for being among the nations with the highest accident risks for death. It has been this way since 1996.
The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety and Research said there were 7,152 deaths last year, of which 62.7 per cent involved motorcyclists.
Vietnam holds the record for having the highest rate of motorcycle fatalities in Asia with 20 deaths per day.
With Hari Raya Aidilfitri approaching, we must brace ourselves for more unsettling news.
Statistics show that the majority of these accidents involved motorcyclists aged between 16 and 20.
They mainly occur in rural areas where the helmet is never worn, or loosely buckled to deceive authorities.
Surprisingly, the record also shows that female motorcyclists riding without licences account for a higher percentage of accidents than their male counterparts.
Studies have indicated a strong correlation between attitude and driving behaviour.
I find the attitude of motorcyclists deplorable. Many are rude and do not respect traffic rules and regulations.
At times, the violations and disrespect for the law shown by motorcyclists are embarrassing.
In small towns and rural roads, it is not unusual to see children without licences going to school on motorcycles.
Many started riding motorcycles at ages younger than the legal age of obtaining a motorcycle licence.
Parents are aware of this, but allow it to happen anyway because it works to their convenience.
Many of these young motorcyclists seldom wear a helmet, or switch on the lights at night.
Other risky behaviour include riding recklessly at high speed, riding dangerously between moving and stationary cars, overtaking on the left, making sudden turns without giving signals, jumping lights and surging into oncoming traffic.
Occasionally, you see them riding with their friends in small groups, chatting and laughing, throwing caution to the wind.
And these are normal motorcyclists, not thrill-seeking Mat Rempit.
Almost every day, we see motorcyclists breaking rules on the road without being punished. While the number is increasing, it is worrying to see more and more ignoring rules.
Could such nonchalant and dangerous attitudes be due to lax enforcement of the law?
Are enforcement officers lenient and forgiving when it comes to motorcyclists from rural areas?
Law enforcement is a key elements in controlling traffic violations, but enforcement of the law during festive seasons or on selected weekends, followed by lapses, are plain harmful.
The Automated Awareness Safety System and Kejara Demerit Point System must be enforced on motorcyclists, too.
Kejara has been around for a long time but has never really got off the ground.
The right attitude towards road safety is a must and this can be achieved only if the police, Road Transport Department, schools, communities, village security committees and parents work hand in hand.
Respect for the law must begin at home with parents as the first teachers. We must teach our children from an early age to look down on those who do not observe the rules and not to look up to them as heroes, as is the case with Mat Rempit.
Road safety education and training programmes are essential in boosting traffic safety.
Motorcyclists must be instilled with a sense of responsibility. The responsibility must be extended to other road users, so that everyone is safe on the road.
It must begin at home and carried on through initiatives in schools.
Classes can include materials on traffic safety and examinations can include questions on these topics.
Kota Baru, Kelantan