by BERNAMA / pic by TMR FILE
KUALA LUMPUR – The balik kampung rush will begin in a few days, with city folks eagerly looking forward to joining their families and relatives in the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festivities, something they were deprived of in the last two years due to the movement controls imposed by the government.
As expected, massive traffic congestion will be the order of the day on all the main roads and highways as some 14 million vehicles are scheduled to be on motorways across the country three days before Hari Raya, according to Bukit Aman police headquarters.
To ensure smooth traffic flow and prevent untoward incidents, the police are planning a 10-day operation dubbed Op Selamat 18, from April 29 till May 8.
Bukit Aman Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department principal assistant director (enforcement) Supt Dr Bakri Zainal Abidin said in anticipation of the increase in vehicles during the festive period the police will conduct more integrated and efficient enforcement to curb road accidents and smoothen traffic flow.
He said they will be focusing on the total enforcement approach whereby their operations will cover speed limit compliance as well as focus on motorcycles and commercial vehicles which police have identified as the main contributors to accident statistics.
As part of this year’s Op Selamat 18, the police will also speed up their response to road accidents and traffic build-ups.
“To do this, we have created emergence response teams at 14 locations on highways throughout the country. The teams will also involve other enforcement and rescue agencies,” he told Bernama recently.
The police will also use in-car radar technology to detect vehicles exceeding the set speed limits.
The use of this technology, which was introduced early this year, will enable the police to nab errant drivers more effectively.
“The digital in-car radar technology will be utilised throughout the highways. We will use cameras with radar technology that are capable of detecting drivers who are speeding.
“Each recording will contain a picture of the vehicle as well as its registration number and the date, time and place where the offence was committed… we hope that with the use of this technology, road users will be more careful and follow the speed limits when driving during the Raya period,” added Bakri.
On April 18, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said five types of traffic offences, including speeding, committed during the Hari Raya period cannot be compounded and have to be settled in court.
The other non-compoundable offences are driving on the emergency lane, using the handphone while driving, failing to observe the red light signal and queue jumping.
Bakri said the police will also be using the Intelligent Compound Online Payment System (iCOPS) to crack down on traffic offenders with outstanding summonses and traffic arrest warrants.
“For the police, the use of iCOPS is seen to have had a very positive effect as it is assisting us by providing us with more accurate data, including the owners’ (traffic offence) records and information about their vehicles,” he added.
A total of 308,726 summonses for various traffic offences were issued by the police during Op Selamat 17 in January this year, implemented in conjunction with Chinese New Year, while 271,168 summonses were issued during the same period last year.
COMPLY WITH TRAFFIC RULES
Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) director-general Datuk Dr Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim advised the public to plan their journeys according to the time schedule set by the highway concessionaires to avoid getting stuck in snarled-up traffic.
“There’s bound to be an increase in traffic during Aidilfitri this year because in the past two years, we couldn’t return to our kampung to celebrate due to the Movement Control Order to stem the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
He also urged motorists to inspect and service their vehicles before embarking on their trip back to their kampung.
“Comply with all the (traffic) rules, especially speed limits, while on the road. Exceeding the speed limit while driving or riding increases the risk of collisions with other road users.
“Be considerate and practice defensive driving when driving or riding your vehicle. Use safety gadgets such as seat belts and helmets,” he said.
PLUS Malaysia Bhd has issued a ‘Balik Kampung dan Pulang Ke Bandar’ Travel Time Advisory for the Hari Raya period starting from April 29 till May 9 to enable the public to plan their journeys and avoid traffic congestion.
PLUS expects traffic on its highways to increase by 25 percent to two million vehicles during the festive period.
Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya consultant psychiatrist Associate Prof Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari reminded drivers to get enough rest before starting their journey.
He said this is important as driving whilst feeling tired or drowsy may cause episodes of microsleep.
Microsleep is a condition involving brief, intermittent moments of sleep that can occur without the driver realising it.
“When a driver experiences this condition (microsleep), even for only two or three seconds, the car would possibly have moved 10 to 20 metres with its steering wheel uncontrolled… this can indirectly result in a collision (with another vehicle) or accident,” he said.
Dr Muhammad Muhsin said since people are more likely to feel sleepy at night, they should avoid driving at night. He also advised them not to drive alone as boredom may set in and cause them to lose focus on their driving.
“It’s best to find a friend to accompany you or be your ‘co-pilot’ so that both can take turns to drive and rest.
“For long-distance trips, the driver is encouraged to take a break each time he has driven for two hours. If driving at night, drink coffee or other beverages that make you feel refreshed,” he added.