Friday, November 12, 2010

Where And How Do Accidents Happen And How To Avoid Them

Malaysia is reputed to possess one of the best road systems in the world. But unfortunately, it is also believed that it also has one of the highest rate of accidents.
China, followed very closely by India, holds the top 2 positions for accidents. Malaysia, with a population of only some 25 – 30 million people, including Sabah and Sarawak, has a “death” rate, which averages 7,500 people per year.
Surprisingly, the United States of America, with a population of some 50 million, is reported to have only a death rate only 300 per year.
Every festive occasion, like Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, Deepavali, Christmas including New Year, Malaysians especially are very fond of going back to their kampungs or better known as “balik kampung”.
In such massive exodus of drivers back to their home towns, we see thousand of drivers and their families trying their best to reach home as quickly and safely they can.
The government, on its part, realise that it is at this time, that many accidents take place. “Op Sikap Campaigns” or Safety Operation Campaigns are conducted during such festive periods.
Unfortunately, to state, although much money and time is spent, the result achieved is not too encouraging.
Today’s article, attempts to touch upon the topic of how accidents happen and ideally how to avoid them.
Amongst the familiar places where accidents tend to take place are:

1) At junctions.

“T” and cross junction are notorious places of accidents. Stop ideally 2 meters behind the “stop line”.
Drivers are advised to look right. Then look left, then right again, before proceeding.
In coming vehicles obviously have the right of way first. If a stream of cars should be coming continuously ahead of us, then we have to perform the same procedure of looking right, then left and finally looking right again without fail.
By following the above tedious practice, it is eventually hoped we can avoid accidents.

2) Knocking or crashing into vehicles ahead of us.

This is the most frequent mistake a driver makes. The mistake obviously is following too close. Defensive mode of driving, a concept of Australian driving, which the Malaysian authorities are supposedly meant to adopt, suggests a driver ideally follow the “2 seconds” rule.
Anyone hitting a vehicle in front of him is at fault. So, dear readers, do not follow a vehicle too close! Unless you are as good as Formula One driver Jenson Button Or Michael Schumacher, the advise again is, stay away from the vehicle in front of you.

3) Getting hit or knocked into by a vehicle behind you.

Yes, getting crashed into by a vehicle is the other driver’s fault. But, it could also be yours too!
How is this possible, you may ask?
Not looking at side or rear mirrors, not using your indicators or signals, stopping suddenly are but some common mistakes made by most drivers.
If you should wish to stop, I suggest you should ideally wind down your window and do the hand waving manual signal which is safer.
By doing this, the driver behind will hopefully be better aware of your intention to stop.

4) Crashing into a vehicle on the opposite side of a highway.

The most disastrous type of all accidents is supposed to be a “head on” crash accident!
A science teacher once told us, should one car traveling at 70 km/h were to hit another car traveling at the same speed, the total impact upon collision would be 140 km/h!
Have you ever heard or read of incidents whereby a vehicle from the left side of a highway crashed across the divider, out of control and crashing into vehicles approaching from the right side on the opposite lane?
Such hypothetical accidents can actually happen.
When the Federal Highway, from Klang to Kuala Lumpur, which stretched approximately 24 miles was being built way back in 1957 (I was about 12 then), the road engineers, Gammon Long, a well renowned British engineering company did in fact build an “earth divider”, triangular in shape, with a base of 4 feet and about 3 feet high, stretching the entire highway measuring 24 miles.
The engineers believed this structure, would prevent any vehicle going out of control and at a speed of 80 – 90 km/h along the highway, would eventually ascend up the divider, overturn or “flip” back to its own left side, thus avoiding or crashing over to the opposite right, thereby avoiding a disastrous accident from happening.
Over the years, our engineers from the Public Works Department, people responsible for our road safety, have since removed the above mentioned structure. They have replaced it with decorative plants and lights and buntings and flags instead.
Why are such triangular shaped earth dividers no longer incorporated into our highways and expressways today? Can a road engineer provide an answer to the above? Or the authorities maybe.

This short article has concentrated on how accidents can happen and the ways to avoid them. Hopefully, it would contribute towards drivers driving in a safer manner and thereby causing fewer accidents.

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