Attitude U-turn with AES

 KUALA LUMPUR: AN expert on the controversial Automated Enforcement System (AES) has denounced a suggestion put forth by consultants hired by the Pakatan Rakyat coalition that the system should only be enforced when the country's annual road fatalities reach 30,000.

A leading authority in the Intelligent Transport System (ITS), Dr Khoriri Mohd Dimyati, said the 6,877 deaths a year are an overwhelming number for the country's population of 28 million.

"According to a research conducted by Malaysia Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) last year, over 17 people die in road accidents every day.

"If we want to wait until there are 30,000 deaths per year, that would mean 80 deaths per day. What would happen to the population?"

He said the country would suffer if no efforts were made to curb the fatal accident rates, notwithstanding Miros's research on road fatalities last year also stated that the country incurs losses up to RM1.2 million for each road fatality.

The 30,000 threshold was among suggestions by the Pakatan-appointed consultants that were published in an online news portal on Wednesday, and comparisons were also drawn between road fatality cases in Malaysia and of highly-populated countries like India and Indonesia.

In dismissing the suggestion, Khoriri claimed that some advanced countries have adopted the AES despite experiencing fewer road fatalities than Malaysia, citing Sweden as an example where the AES was implemented after just one roadside accident.

The Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) lecturer added that the North European nation, with a population of nine million, experiences only two road fatalities per year since the AES was brought in.

Malaysia implemented the AES on Sept 23, but this decision has been met with backlash from various quarters, particularly from the opposition coalition.

In addition, the summons at RM300 was regarded as burdensome to the people. Khoriri, however, pointed out that the implementation of AES was not about issuing summonses.

"The AES was designed to create a healthier and safer driving attitude among road users, driven by the 'POBC' concept -- the Perception of Being Caught.

"Just imagine when there is a roadblock up ahead or a traffic officer. Drivers would immediately check their seatbelts and put away their mobile phones.

"They would not want to get caught breaking any traffic laws and this is what we want the system to do, to create this attitude. So instead of placing enforcement officers, we use cameras, which are more cost-effective," he said.

The Newcastle University graduate said the system would address limitations of insufficient number of enforcement officers.

He said that previous traffic operations were only able to bring about 40 per cent POBC awareness among drivers, compared to 25 per cent when there is no operation, adding that he is confident the AES would generate 75 to 80 per cent POBC awareness in the long run.

In Kuala Terengganu, A. Azim Idris reported that the Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) has called on the Road and Transport Department to provide a briefing on the AES.

Cuepacs president Datuk Omar Osman said while the union was not opposed to the system, he was concerned whether summonses would be issued to government drivers caught speeding while driving government vehicles.

"If they (the drivers) are caught on camera, they would be the ones who would have to foot the bill, not their offices or bosses," he said, adding that as drivers were sometimes instructed to exceed the speed limit by employers who were rushing to appointments.

He added the matter would be brought up at the Health Ministry Drivers Union meeting in Johor soon.

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