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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Slower Speeds Can Also Kill

It is good that the police are looking at ways to reduce the accident rate during our seasons of driving madness that is the “balik kampong” festivals.

My family makes it a point never to travel outstation unless absolutely necessary during these festivals as the risk of accidents is much higher on account of the following:

• There are more novices driving long distance for the first time

• Many vehicles are overcrowded

• The traffic density is much higher

• Many vehicles in poor condition are subjected to long distance.

This means that the risk of an accident goes up by at least four factors.

As a driver with more than 35 years of driving practice I find it most comfortable driving on the NSH when there are few vehicles near me. The ideal condition I like is a vehicle ahead about 500meters or within sight so I can predict the road curvature ahead, no vehicles next to me and no vehicles behind me for at least 500 meters.

If I get into a situation with bunching of vehicles, I will accelerate or slow down to find a better space and one can do this within the speed constraints although I have gone up to 160kph on rare occasions.

I suggest the following will help reduce the road fatalities during festive periods:

• Make laws to designate the period considered “festive periods” for traffic purposes

• Do not allow “P” drivers to drive more than 30km away from their registered address

• Do not allow drivers convicted of driving offences to drive more than 30km away from their registered address within 3 months of a driving conviction.

• More police monitoring of offences such as road hogging, overtaking on the left, weaving in and out of traffic, changing lanes without signaling, overcrowding and unroadworthy vehicles.

Anyone who drives long distance knows that driving at a constant speed for long periods causes one to become sleepy and one should take a driving break after about two hours.

I would suggest the speed limits on the NSH be adjusted for the following:

Car capacity:
Below 1000cc 100kph
Below 1500cc 110kph
Above 2000cc 120kph

Driver’s skills adjustment:
“P” driver minus 10kph
Below 5 years (no convictions) no adjustment
5 to 10 years (no convictions) plus 10 kph
More than 10 years (no convictions) plus 20kph

For example this means the most skilled driver can drive the smallest category at 120kph whereas a “P” driver is allowed to drive the biggest car at 110kph.
Once you have an accident your status will start at zero again.

All the data is easily verified but it does involve a little more work.
I believe this method to reduce accidents will have more positive results than the “one size fits all" strategy.

Photo: http://www.nitrospeed.net/shows/40 (warning: may upset viewers)

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