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Abuse of highway emergency lanes has been reduced due to stricter enforcement and stiffer penalties handed down by the Road Transport Department (JPJ). As reported in The Sun Daily, JPJ enforcement director Datuk Valluvan Veloo said drivers are considering the consequences of abusing the emergency lane during traffic jams.

The crack-down on emergency lane abuse came about after an incident on the North-South expressway near Ayer Keroh last May 22. An ambulance was delayed in arriving at the scene of an accident due to the emergency lane being blocked by drivers wanting to beat the traffic jam.

Two people passed away in the accident, and the delay in the arrival of the ambulance is believed to have contributed to the demise of the victims. “Ambulances must be given priority. Come on, they are saving lives! What is this?” said Valluvan, adding it was after the incident that the JPJ decided to take lane abusers to court and impose maximum penalties.

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A total of 2,783 offenders abusing the emergency lane were identified from May 22 to August 25, of which 806 drivers were hauled up to court. Of these, 113 offenders were fined a total of RM170,000, working out to an average fine of RM1,500 per offence.

Valluvan acknowledged that emergency lane abuse was rampant as offenders know the chance of being caught was low. “Drivers realise that the chances of getting caught red-handed are very slim as the JPJ and police cannot be there every day, and it has become a habit for many to use the emergency lane to cut queues during traffic jams,” he said.

Feedback from ambulance drivers to JPJ has indicated the stricter enforcement is working, reporting that emergency journeys are smoother than before. “We are trying to change the attitude of drivers. We used to only issue compounds of a maximum RM300. Now we take them to court,” said Valluvan.