(This Article was originally published at the Views section of the Star Newspapers, 20 February 2012)

THIS is an issue that has been on my mind for years. It hurts me deeply to read the daily reports of traffic casualties, particulalrly the cause of these accidents.

Most of the reports cited instances such as “driver lost control of the vehicle”, or “car veered into opposite lane”, etc. 

I see such examples daily when driving in Malaysia – a car zig-zagging between the lanes on the highway, cutting corners at the exits, backing up on the highway in the dark because of a missed exit. And I can go on.

I am a Dutchman who has lived in Asia for over 10 years, more than eight in Singapore and now almost a year in Kuala Lumpur. I have had a driving licence – car, motorcycle and lorry – for over 35 years, have driven all over Europe and have done a fair bit of touring in Malaysia.

My own history with cars goes back 35 years, during which I drove a Porsche 911 for 25 years, driving a rally car and racing on the various racetracks in Europe.

So I dare say I have some experience.

It hurts even more to see how many drivers here don’t pay attention to the basics of safe driving.

Here are a few observations:

> You hold the steering wheel at 10 past 10 (when looking at a clock), not at 5 to 12 (two hands next to each other on the top), nor at 6.30 (two hands on the bottom of the wheel and arms on the lap).

Have a look at the F1 drivers like Michael Schumacher. These guys know what’s best when at the wheel.

> Two hands on the wheel means no hand to send an SMS or make a phone call.

> The documents for the next meeting are read at your office or at home. But they can be read in the car if your position in the company is so important that they give you a driver.

> Make-up is better done at home in front of the big mirror instead of while driving and looking into that small mirror in the car.

> Talk, yes, but keep your eyes on the road in the meantime. Sitting almost reversed to address a person in the back seat may result in the car veering off-course.

> Children are not supposed to be on the lap of the driver (seen this many times in Malaysia).

Kids should be in the back seat and with seat belts on. They cannot protect themselves yet. You have to take responsibility and ensure maximum security for the kids in your vehicle.

> When in a jam, solving it together is the fastest solution. People should weave into one lane alternatively. Like the zipper of your pants.

Don’t jump the queue by taking a shortcut via the petrol station or parking bay and worsen the jam, because more cars would now be at the spot where it’s already full.

> When changing lanes, move smoothly to the other lane after signalling. And back to the left after overtaking, of course.

> Having a wild road race and settling arguments by cutting off the other guy/girl’s lane doesn’t get anyone anywhere, except closer to a near accident with the risk of casualties.

Let’s try to grow up as mature adults in traffic, thus preventing death.

It really hurts to see the number of casualties in traffic accidents here that could have been prevented if people would just grow up and behave.

JAN VAN LAAR,

Kajang.

Source: Thestar (Opinion)