PETALING JAYA: Despite being well trained to protect and escort VIPs to their destinations, police outriders could do a better job if they discharge their duty in a more courteous and friendly manner, says National Road Safety Council member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
“I have no doubt police outriders are well trained on aspects such as route planning, safety, communication and emergency preparedness.
“But what I think they need is to have more finesse while doing their job.”
The Star reported yesterday that motorists were occasionally upset with the manner some of these outriders execute their duties.
Lee said he once nearly hit the car in front of him when the driver came to a complete halt to give way to police outriders.
To further enhance the safety between police outriders and the public, Lee suggested that learner drivers be taught how to cope in situations where they had to move aside for the VIPs.
“If they are not taught to do so, they would not know how to handle the situation, which will lead to panic and accidents.
“This is something that all driving schools should incorporate and teach drivers what they must do as part of their driving test before they obtain their licence,” he said.
The Star yesterday quoted the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) as saying that there were 32 deaths from road accidents involving special duty vehicles in 2017.
Special duty vehicles included those used by police outriders, ambulances, fire brigade trucks and other first responder vehicles.
Eleven people were severely injured in such incidents while 33 suffered minor injuries, according to the data.
Police outriders are responsible for providing safe passage for VIPs en route to their official duties, Miros director Dr Siti Zaharah Ishak notes. But they need to be considerate, she adds.
“In certain cases due to the dynamics of traffic situations, outriders have stopped motorists abruptly, leaving them with the need to make immediate judgements to take action.
“This includes changing lanes, applying the emergency brake and moving to the road shoulder.
“Wrong actions taken may lead to dangerous situations.”
As such, she says both outriders and motorists also need to use their discretion to keep safe.
Currently, the practice by police outriders is to turn on sirens and lights to warn other drivers of the approaching VIP convoy. This is often followed with giving hand signals for motorists to give way.
To improve current practices, Miros suggests for more comprehensive training to ensure the safety of outriders, the VIP convoy and the public.
“In fast moving traffic, the outriders would sometimes need to clear the traffic immediately, hence exposing them to risks as well.