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Analysts have said that a review of the existing driving school syllabus could reduce road accidents like the fatal incident on May 2 – in which two allegedly speeding Perodua Myvis crashed into a Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, killing three people in the latter – according to a Bernama report.

Director of HELP University’s Crime and Criminology Institute Datuk Akhbar Satar told the national news agency that the identification and improvement of the syllabus’ weak points could instil learner drivers with more comprehensive driving skills, thus turning them to safer, more considerate drivers.

“Driving institutes tend to focus on the importance of obeying traffic or safety rules but people are not applying good values whilst driving,” he said. “I feel it’s important for the driving school syllabus to cover topics such as ethics and courtesy. These days, it’s quite common to see people being rude and even behaving like gangsters when on the road.”

He added that the current guidelines are too basic and fail to fulfil the driving requirements of today, which could be contributing to poor driver attitudes and an increasing number of road accidents. Statistics from the first three months of this year have registered a 3.3% increase in accidents to 117,934 cases, with the number of fatalities on the road rising from 1,557 in the same period last year to 1,696.

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Additionally, Akhbar said that more integrated and holistic law enforcement and long-term planning could keep traffic offenders at bay. “Selfish drivers should not be let off that easily,” he said. “If they commit an offence, they should be punished accordingly. We have to discipline Malaysian drivers with stricter laws, so that they learn to respect other road users.”

Meanwhile, driving instructor Mohamed Salim Thayubkhan said that the current syllabus should have a stronger focus on “reality driving” instead of just another stepping stone in obtaining a licence.

“The reality driving I’m talking about refers to the highly challenging driving conditions on our roads these days,” he said. “They [Malaysian drivers] have their own individual style of driving and they come across as highly selfish, with little or no regard for their own safety or the safety of other road users. They are not all considerate.”

Mohamed Salim added that drivers should be able to drive carefully, all the while taking the safety of other road users, including pedestrians, into consideration. “Driving skills can only be learnt through practical lessons, not from books on driving,” he said. “In reality, what is written in the books is different from what’s happening on our roads.”

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Open University of Malaysia psychology and counselling lecturer Dr R. Nambiar said that emotional stress could also be a factor. “When a person is facing a lot of pressure, his attitude and reactions can change,” he said. “And, when such a person drives, he may not think about his safety or the safety of others. All he wants to do is escape from his problems.”

On the other hand, Kedah youth parliament member Muhammad Nur Faruqi Ismail said that NGOs and other parties should join forces to provide a suitable platform to teach safe driving techniques to youths. He added that he welcomed healthy motorsports activities, as they could draw the attention of youths away from negative elements.

“There’s nothing wrong in them joining motoring clubs but they must make sure that they are well versed in road safety,” he said. “For example, if they intend to travel in a convoy, they should have a marshal to supervise them and ensure that they are adhering to the speed limit.”