Criticism is important for social engineering, but at the same time it is also the easiest thing do to, particularly when is done in hindsight.
It is common that when a tragedy occurs, we quickly assign fault to a particular individual or authority, then we move on believing we have done something meaningful by virtue of our comments alone.
Traffic accidents on Malaysian roads haverisen to around 450,000 annually since 2010. Studies also indicate that 80.6%of accidents are a result from human error.
In the tragedy involving the loss of eight young lives onthe roads of Johor Baru last week, we saw numerous perspectives on the cause of the accident. Fingers were pointed at the children, the driver, the parents, law enforcers and even the education system.
While these points may be valid, we need to rise beyond this finger pointing and ask ourselves, as a society, what can be done to reduce, oreven better, prevent such tragedies from occurring?
It is obvious that human error can no longer be addressed through human blame and shame. Furthermore, they are merely reactionary, not pre-emptive.
Common wisdom says that the fabric of society is constructed upon the threads of individuals. Any ideology that defines a culture or society heavily depends on the buy-in of its citizens on an idea or belief. This meansthat there are principles that are whole-heartedly accepted, and some not tolerated.
The level of tolerance of unsafe behaviour now becomes the standard in question. Are we setting high standards of safety consciousness on ourselves? Do we tolerate unsafe behaviour of others?
Taking a few examples of Malaysian driving habits, it is very common to see indicators not being used. Unfortunately, that many of our motorists accept this as a norm – is seems to be the Malaysian way.
Another example is the number of cars tailgating each other on Malaysian highways. It has become a norm to be within inches of the car ahead. Everybody seems to do it, so there should not be a problem.
Many advanced societies define their societal maturity by how they behave on the roads. The worldview towards safety is simple –preventing accidents is allowing ourselves and others ample time to react. Due to this, the population understands the reasons behind the numerous safety rules taught to us, both at school and the driving academy.
When our children are exposed to safe practices, perhaps they too will follow our examples. Behaviour is not something we can teach by telling, it has to be shown and demonstrated continuously. We can no longer behave only for the law enforcers, but we behave because we believe in theright principles.
As a member of the automotive industry, we are working tirelessly to ensure that vehicle technology can reduce human error. However, we have to live the fact that even the best technology can never replace highstandards of safety awareness.
My deepest thoughts, condolences and prayers go out to thefamilies of the recent tragedy in Johor. I hope that as a society, we do not forget that more lives will be lost if we ourselves do not practice and helpcreate awareness among our fellow Malaysian that safety is paramount – the bestway to save lives is never to reduce injury, but to prevent it altogether.
“All it takes is that one moment we couldn’t react in time.”
The writer is the chief executive officer of the Malaysia Automotive Institute.