Published on September 28th, 2021 | by Subhash Nair0
Does The Government Really Want To Stop Seniors From Driving In Malaysia?
Last week, there were rumours circulated by national newspapers and online portals that the government would be looking at limiting driving license issuance for older folks. Specifically, the rumour pointed to a comment by Datuk Azisman Alias, the Bukit Aman traffic investigation and enforcement department director. Datuk Azisman stated that poor health amongst senior citizens was one of the causes of road accidents.
“Some senior citizens aged 70 and above are forgetful and senile, and most cases of driving against the traffic flow involving this group is because of wrongfully entering a road,” he said. “There was a case previously where an elderly driver entered a motorcycle lane.”
Azisman’s suggestion was for elderly drivers to only be issued new licenses if they had confirmation from a doctor that they were mentally and physically fit to drive as well as to shorten the license renewal period for older drivers from a maximum of 5 years to something a little shorter.
What did The Transport Minister Say?
Over the weekend, Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong made statements over a Facebook post addressing the issue. On Saturday, he said that “retracting or limiting senior citizens to driving licenses should be a last resort once it is proven they are unable to drive.”
He also said that many drivers above 70 were more proficient at driving than some younger drivers, so focusing on age alone would not be a good solution.
Then on Sunday, he took to Facebook again to confirm that there was no truth to the rumour and reinforce the fact that the current law allows for individuals to voluntarily give up their driving licenses.
Would It Even Work In Malaysia?
So it’s clear that this isn’t actually going to happen. But let’s pretend for a minute that it is going to happen. Would it work in Malaysia?
On the one hand, this idea seems to be a sound one. They’re not disallowing the old from driving, but just making sure that the elderly are still fit to carry out the potentially dangerous task of driving. However, I don’t think it would work in this country. Adding another layer to a bureaucratic process in Malaysia only opens new avenues for corruption.
Bi-annual inspections for commercial vehicles… they’re a good idea too. But does anyone really believe they’re working as intended?
There are also many seniors living without a wage. Having to add a doctor’s appointment to the mix would effectively increase the price of obtaining a license. The license itself is RM30 a year, which is fairly priced. But a doctor’s appointment may end up doubling the cost of a license per year at best. Why increase the burdens of older folk?
Decreasing the duration of the license is another thing that was mentioned. This I think is also quite burdensome. I recently had major trouble renewing my license due to an extremely ill-equipped system developed by JPJ for the 2021 MCO season. MYEG couldn’t even use my IC’s photo to issue me a new licence online. How would JPJ go about verifying doctors’ notes without a unified system in place? I shudder to think of how this might be implemented.
Why Target Seniors?
My father’s 70 this year and he’s a safer driver than many younger folk. So, I agree with the Transport Minister – targetting seniors is not the solution.
I think the solution should be done in a more systematic way.
- Work with PDRM and JPJ to find repeat traffic violators and have them go through more comprehensive driving lessons
- There are car brands who want to promote safer driving in Malaysia – allow them to work with driving schools to improve the curriculum. Since the customised incentive scheme seems to have all kinds of vague ingredients going into it, why not add “road safety curriculum assistance” into the list of factors?
- Increase the default license renewal price, but introduce a system that lowers the price should drivers take additional lessons in defensive driving. Incentivise the improvement of driving skills.