Illegal driving gaining speed

JPJ senior enforcement director Datuk Lokman Jamaan checking the licence and road tax of a lorry driver during the Ops Patuh Bersepadu at the Plaza Tol Senawang in Seremban. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: More than 23,000 motorists were caught driving illegally in a nationwide operation but here’s the main concern – experts believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

They said the figure could be much higher as there were more than 30 million registered private vehicles in the country.

Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) chairman Prof Dr Wong Shaw Voon said many who did not have a driving licence could be evading enforcement operations.

“We also have to consider those using vehicles in estates without a licence,” he said when contacted.

Last Sunday, it was reported that 23,748 notices were issued to road users for not having a licence.

The nationwide 14-day operation, code-named Ops Patuh Bersepadu 2023, ended on Nov 24. A total of 554,372 vehicles were inspected throughout the exercise.

Road Transport Department (JPJ) senior enforcement director Datuk Lokman Jamaan said most of the offenders were aged between 15 and 35.

Wong said it was important to note where the roadblocks were put up, how widespread the operations were and which areas and states were covered.

“The number of offenders could be much more, depending on the location, such as in rural areas where adherence may not be high,” he said.

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As for those who had a licence but did not carry it with them, Wong said there was no longer any excuse as digital driving licences could be accessed through the MyJPJ app.

“If possible, bring the physical card along and keep a digital copy at hand. Make it a habit to have your driving licence with you at all times, just like your handphone,” he said.

“Parents should not encourage their children to use a vehicle without having the necessary licence. The children may have the skills but this is not advised. Some parents may think it is convenient for their children to use a vehicle to get supplies or items from stores located nearby.

“But anything can happen within those five minutes. Maximal road safety requires a concerted effort not just from the authorities but the entire community.”

Road safety expert Assoc Prof Law Teik Hua said the number of offenders might represent “a small portion of the actual number driving without a licence”.

“Special operations like Ops Patuh Bersepadu are periodic and drivers without a licence might avoid driving during such periods,” said Law, who heads Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Road Safety Research Centre.

He said driving without a licence posed risks and potential harm regardless of whether the offence was in a rural or urban setting.

The legal consequences included fines, vehicle impoundment or even imprisonment.

“Unlicensed drivers may not have insurance coverage and if they are involved in accidents, it can lead to financial liabilities and complications.

“These drivers may also not have the necessary skill and knowledge required for safe driving, increasing the risk of accidents,” he added.

“A lack of awareness and financial constraints are among the reasons why people have no licence.

“In areas with limited public transportation options, individuals may even resort to driving without a licence as a means of meeting their mobility needs, even if they have not acquired proper documentation,” he said.

Law said education and awareness campaigns, besides accessible education programmes could help overcome this issue.

“Engaging with communities, especially in rural areas, to understand their specific challenges and needs can help tailor solutions to address barriers to obtaining a driver’s licence,” he said.

Concurrently, strengthening law enforcement efforts can also deter unlicensed driving, Law said.
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