The dangers of driving on public roads are aplenty, but few come close to being as frightening as seeing a big truck approaching your rear-view mirror at speed, and not stopping. It has happened countless times, the most recent of which took place on the North–South Expressway (PLUS), near the Menora Tunnel in Jelapang, Perak.

Based on a dashcam recording that was uploaded to Facebook, a lorry (northbound; looks to be a 10-tonner) ploughed through what appears to be five vehicles, first hitting a bus. There was also a white SUV, a Perodua Myvi, an Axia, and another unidentified passenger car.

Thankfully, no casualties were reported, though passengers travelling in the bus – which absorbed the bulk of the impact – were likely to be flung out of their seats, injuring themselves in the process. This also serves as a reminder to fasten your seatbelts (it’s a good habit, really) no matter where you’re seated in a vehicle and what the mode of transport is.

According to the Facebook post, the lorry had malfunctioning brakes, and the incident actually took place on March 12, 2022. Motorists who frequent that particular stretch would know exactly how often an incident of this nature happens, and without regular maintenance, there’s little that can be done to prevent a ticking time bomb like this from going off.

If we refer to the checklist by the Road Transport Department (JPJ), a commercial vehicle (CV) is supposed to undergo a routine roadworthiness inspection of at least twice a year. This includes specific probes into the vehicle’s undercarriage, emissions, suspension, headlights and taillights, speedometer test, as well as brake test.

The brake test is one of the most important components of the periodic inspection. If a CV fails the test, it will be automatically blacklisted and the results will be sent to JPJ. The owner will have to rectify the issue and upon repair, obtain JPJ permission for re-inspection. Just so you know, other test failures aren’t referred back to the JPJ, just brake test failures.

Now, regardless of this lorry’s inspection records, it cannot be stressed enough that truck owners must adhere to the proper maintenance schedules. It’s a motor vehicle after all, and one that is used for heavy duty jobs on a daily basis.

Enforcement is another matter altogether. If not done stringently, compliance will naturally be low, because people will start to think that they can get away with it. We’re not saying the authorities aren’t doing their jobs, because we often see enforcement officers flagging down commercial vehicles on expressways.

Either way, we’re glad no one perished in this freak episode. Over the years, vehicle crashworthiness has improved greatly, but passenger vehicles just aren’t designed to be rear ended at speed. There isn’t much in the way of crumple zone at the back as there is up front, plus hatchbacks have significantly lesser leeway at the back to absorb impacts.

With the Hari Raya celebrations being just around the corner, let us remind you again to travel safely and always be mindful of your surroundings, especially for the Balik Kampung journey. Make sure your cars are serviced thoroughly, and if you could spare some change, get a dashcam as well.