PETALING JAYA: Selfish motorists misusing the emergency lane have again come under the spotlight just months after 20 road users were slapped with heavy fines for the offence.
In May, two ambulances responding to an accident along Km222 of the North-South Expressway were delayed for over an hour by vehicles hogging the emergency lane. The two motorcyclists involved in the accident did not survive.
Yesterday, a fire engine from the Kulai Fire and Rescue Department was delayed from reaching an accident on the highway in Johor, again by motorists driving on the emergency lane.
A video of the fire engine being blocked by the vehicles has since gone viral.
Muhd Zain Yunus, an officer from the Kulai Fire and Rescue Department, said the three-car pileup happened around noon.
“We were delayed by more than 10 minutes. Fortunately, this time, there were no serious injuries.”
He said the problem of motorists misusing the emergency lanes worsened during the holiday season or when there was a lot of traffic on the roads.
Motorists keep repeating the offence because they are confident the police are not there to book them.
Road safety expert Karen Goonting told FMT that irresponsible motorists keep misusing the emergency lane because they do not believe they would get caught.
She said while there was constant debate over whether overt or covert enforcement methods were better, she believed both were necessary.
“When you have overt enforcement and people see enforcement officers or cameras around, they will adhere to road rules,” said Goonting, who is Asian Development Bank’s national road safety adviser for Malaysia.
She said the authorities, due to a scarcity of resources, used covert methods to create the impression that people were being watched all the time.
“To stop people from misusing the emergency lanes, you need both education and enforcement. They must go hand in hand.”
She said just because people were educated or aware of the consequences of their actions did not mean they would always abide by the rules, hence the need for enforcement.
This, she said, meant letting them know that they could not get away by bribing enforcement officers and that the law would hunt them down, no matter where they were.
“In Malaysia, many people do not update their addresses.
“So, when a summons is issued to them, they are not afraid of the authorities finding them because they live elsewhere,” she said, adding it also took a long time for the courts to dispose of the cases. -FMT