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Malaysians were 10X more likely die due to road accidents than COVID-19 in 2020

The Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) has released its road accidents statistics in Malaysia for the year 2020. Apart from reducing the spread of COVID-19, turns out that the Movement Control Order (MCO) had contributed in the reduction of road fatalities.

According to Bukit Aman Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department (JSPT) director, Datuk Azisman Alias, the MCO has helped a lot in reducing the number of accidents in 2020 by 26% compared to 2019. Malaysia has recorded 567,516 accidents in 2019 and 418,237 accidents in 2020.

Meanwhile, road fatalities have also dropped by 25% from 6,167 in 2019 to 4,634 in 2020. That’s an average of 12.7 deaths per day.

Azisman also shared there are 3,118 deaths involving motorcyclists which is 67.28% of total deaths recorded last year. As a comparison, there are 3,959 deaths among motorcyclists in 2019.

A total of 7,655 people were arrested last year, with 3,394 due to driving while intoxicated and 2,624 for road bullying. Despite having fewer accidents, the police had collected 29.2% more fines amounting to RM395.3 million in 2020 versus RM305.9 million in the previous year.

While it is good news that road fatalities have dropped significantly last year, 4,634 deaths is still a huge number. Compare that with COVID-19 where Malaysia had recorded a total of 471 deaths on 31st December 2020. To put things into perspective, you’re 10x more likely to get killed in a road accident than to die due to COVID-19.

When it comes to the pandemic, there are SOPs and measures in place to minimise the risk of infection. Similarly, there are also rules and regulation to ensure road safety. Looking at the statistics, it seems that Malaysians are more compliant when it comes to COVID-19 measures but they don’t bat an eye when it comes to road safety. We still see people getting distracted by their phones, beating the red light and heard cases of people driving under influence including drugs.

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This comparison isn’t meant to downplay the seriousness of the pandemic but to highlight the severity of road accidents which can be avoided. As mentioned in our previous post, road safety is a shared responsibility and it is frustrating to see many lives were lost unnecessarily. The biggest difference is there are vaccines to protect people from COVID-19 but there’s none for reckless driving.

Due to the increase in the number of deaths among young motorcyclists, the Road Transport Department (JPJ) is currently studying a proposal to limit the licensing category for those aged under 21 years old to motorcycles with 70cc engine and below. If it gets approved, the new regulation may take into effect in 2025.

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Alexander Wong