Commentary Local

Drunk-driving falls to new low – reality versus perception

TheMole
Written by TheMole

By Shahrim Tamrin

KUALA LUMPUR – November 20, 2019: Despite the deep public concern over fatal accidents involving drunk-driving, statistics show a different picture —  of the total road fatalities, less than one per cent involve drivers under the influence of alcohol.

Road crash statistics by the Royal Malaysia Police have shown that deaths due to drunk-driving last year recorded a mere 0.85% from overall statistics nationwide.

In 2018, there were only 191 drivers and motorcyclists found positive for driving and riding under the influence (DUI) of alcohol resulting in 54 deaths.

Last year, car drivers topped the chart for DUI related crashes at 74, followed by bikers (67), lorry drivers (21), four-wheel drive drivers (9), lorry trailer drivers (5), express bus drivers (3), workers bus drivers (3), taxi drivers (3), van drivers (3), cyclist (1), a stage bus driver and one tour bus driver.

In 2017, there were 58 deaths or 0.86 % out of overall road casualties. A total of 212 drivers/bikers involved in road mayhems were tested positive with alcohol.

Road crashes data obtained by The Mole in the past nine years have also shown that the highest percentage of deaths due to DUI from the total fatalities was 3.41 % or 229 deaths recorded in 2015. A year later, there were 237 deaths or 3.31 % accounted from total road deaths nationwide.

However, records have indicated that the number of drivers/bikers involved in DUI-related crashes fluctuated in each subsequent year. For example, a total of 266 cases were recorded in 2014.

In the following year, the figures increased to 420 drunk-driving crashes and the upward trend continued in 2016 with 461 cases. A year later, the number dropped to 212.

At a regional workshop on road safety held in Philippines a few months ago, a senior official of Transport Ministry disclosed that there were 618 deaths in 1,035 road crashes due to DUI recorded in the country between 2010 and April 2015.

At present, public apprehension is heightened with a sudden spike of road deaths caused by drunk drivers almost every month.

Last Saturday, a 28-year-old bank executive was killed allegedly by a lady driver intoxicated with alcohol on KESAS Highway at around 2 a.m.

In another DUI case, a 25 year-old Chinese national was charged in Penang end of last month for allegedly causing the death of a 58-year-old Penang Municipal Council worker at Jalan Dato Keramat in George Town at 6.25 a.m on Oct 25.

She was charged under Section 44 (1) (b) of the Road Transport Act 1987 and faces a jail term between three and 10 years if convicted and can also be fined up to RM20,000.

The casualties could have been higher with a lot of near-miss incidents reported in the mainstream media.

Yesterday, Bernama reported that a 64-year-old engineer allegedly committed DUI after he drove against traffic flow for 25 kilometres. He was arrested at the Sungai Dua Toll Plaza on the North-South Expressway at 6 a.m.

On Oct 22, a Malay tabloid reported that a BMW driver gate crashed North Butterworth Container Terminal at 7 am. The 41-year-old manager was allegedly under the influence of alcohol and drugs as well as without a valid driving license.

Four years ago, this writer had reported via theSunDaily that World Health Organisation (WHO) 2015 Global Status Report on Road Safety highlighted that the road traffic deaths involving alcohol were 23 per cent of the overall number of bikers and motorists in Malaysia, a glaring contrast from 2014 Federal Traffic Police road fatalities statistic of 193 for the same cause.

However, police dismissed the WHO findings by stating that the report by the world body was inaccurate and off the mark.

At that point of time, a statement from Bukit Aman stated that the WHO report painted a wrong picture of the country since the 23 pre cent was actually referring to suspected cases of drink or riding involving alcohol.

“The 0.004% is the real indicator after police obtained the result of blood and urine samples of the victims from Chemistry Department,” said police corporate communications head Datin ACP Asmawati Ahmad back then.

She added that the percentage for drunk-driving for year 2014 was 0.041% out of total overall road casualties recorded throughout the country.

She had also clarified there were 49 cases or 0.021% recorded in 2010, 33 cases (0.007%) for 2011 while in 2012 and 2013, it was 136 cases (0.029%) and 207 (0.043%) respectively.

Interestingly, the latest publication of WHO report on road safety released December last year had provided a poor score for Malaysia’s authorities’ enforcement on drink-driving law with four out of 10 marks.

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