In the US, oval racing tracks that host NASCAR and Indy Car Racing have SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barriers – “soft walls” that are designed to absorb the energy during the impact of an accident.

Well, back here in Malaysia, the Road Safety Department Of Malaysia (JKJR) is on a mission of its own – not to turn our roads into racetracks, but to rethink how road dividers are designed from the ground up. The JKJR is to begin the process of reviewing materials used for road dividers in a bid to reduce the severity of impact to vehicles involved in accidents.

Abd Ghafar Yusof, JKJR director general, said the Public Works Department (JKR) will conduct further studies into the basic structure and design of road dividers, and perhaps even look into the feasibility of adding elements such as drains and bushes next to it.

“Among the proposals are to change the metal divider to other material and to ensure all dividers are designed with the tip embedded in the ground to avoid the metal penetrating the vehicles when accident occurs,” he elaborated.


He added that bushes planted next to road dividers can also serve a purpose as it may contribute towards absorbing the impact of a collision. Nonetheless, Abd Ghafar noted that such safety enhancements can only go so far, and that ultimately, drivers need a wholesale change in terms of their attitude to stay safe.

Abd Ghafar highlighted the negligence of drivers as a leading cause of accidents, and the recent spate of operations by the JPJ and the police did play an important role in reducing the accident rate nationwide.

“Operations carried out were effective, as road users are more careful when they noticed the presence of authorities, so we have proposed more enforcement officers from the Road Transport and police to be placed in specified locations,” he said.